Wizards into play-in tournament after rollercoaster win over Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Wizards beat the Golden State Warriors 118-114 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from what went down...
The first time the Wizards won five straight games and seven of eight this season, they immediately cratered into an extended streak of losing. The second time around, they kept it going.
The Wizards just barely edged the Warriors on Wednesday night in a rollercoaster of a game that saw them go up by 19 in the first half, only to later trail by 11 in the second half and take a 25-10 run to the buzzer for the victory.
The Wizards have now won a season-high six straight games. They are 8-1 in their last nine games, which is their best stretch of the season. They are also 8-1 in games Daniel Gafford plays.
This win pushed the Wizards into sole possession of the 10th seed in the East, otherwise known as the final play-in tournament position. They passed the Toronto Raptors with the victory.
Beal vs. Curry
The Beal vs. Curry scoring title battle did not exactly live up to expectations simply because both teams did everything they could to force their teammates to beat them. Beal had 29 points and 10 rebounds but shot just 8-for-21 from the field and 2-for-6 from three. Curry scored 18 points, shooting 7-for-25 overall and 2-for-14 from the perimeter. Curry also had six turnovers.
While Beal and Curry have differences in their games, the ways teams defend them are very similar. They are blitzed off screens, trapped into double-teams in the midrange and given a generous amount of contact at the rim. At least in this particular game, they were both also guarded well beyond the 3-point line.
After Wednesday, Curry stayed in the scoring lead for the season. He's averaging 31.13 points, while Beal is at 31.04.
Deni got hurt
There was an unsettling moment late in the first half as Wizards rookie Deni Avdija turned his ankle badly and had to leave the court in a wheelchair. When Avdija went down, teammate Jordan Bell immediately ran over and covered his leg with a practice jersey, adding to an already ominous scene.
Avdija would leave, though, with his leg uncovered and there were no obvious signs of a compound fracture or anything gruesome. Still, Avdija's season is now over, per ESPN, as he has reportedly suffered a hairline fracture, which was found on an X-ray.
That's a devastating turn of events for the 20-year-old, as well as the Wizards who will now have to make their playoff push without their starting small forward. Keep in mind they already lost their original starting center, Thomas Bryant, for the year due to an ACL tear.
Oubre revenge game (again)
The Warriors catapulted back in the second quarter with major help from a former Wizard, as Kelly Oubre Jr. put in a classic revenge game against his ex-teammates. Oubre had 24 points and nine rebounds, including 18 points in the first half.
Oubre also got it done on defense where he had two blocks, including one on Robin Lopez. All season Lopez has seemingly been unstoppable with his hookshot, rarely missing and basically never having it blocked. But Oubre was able to climb that mountain and do the impossible.
Neto was big
The Wizards got a nice lift off the bench from Raul Neto, who continues to shine as one of the team's best offseason additions. Neto had the hot hand in this one with 18 points, going 7-for-11 from the field.
Neto, who also had four rebounds and three steals, also made his presence felt with hustle plays on defense. In the first half, he poked the ball away from Andrew Wiggins and then leapt out of bounds to save it right off Wiggins' leg. He somehow avoided Bradley Beal who was hip-to-hip with Wiggins to force the turnover.
The Wizards may have a tough decision this offseason if they have to choose between Neto and Ish Smith, as both are so good in their roles as backup guards. Cassius Winston, in theory, is being developed to take a rotation role next season. But both Neto and Smith can bring a lot of value for a bargain price.