Thursday night brought us the first of two eventual NBA Play-in finals, as the Washington Wizards hosted the Indiana Pacers in a winner takes all encounter. The Wizards fell into this matchup after they lost to Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics in the 7th vs 8th place game. Whilst the Pacers on the other hand, defeated the Charlotte Hornets in the 9th vs 10th place game, to keep their Playoff hopes firmly alive. The winner of this game would face the Eastern Conference’s number 1 seed, Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the Playoffs.
Wizards destroy the Pacers to claim final Playoff spot in the East – Pacers 115-142 Wizards
The Washington Wizards are finally back in the Playoffs for the first time since 2018, after they easily defeated the Indiana Pacers in a 27 point blow out. The difference in this game for the Wizards compared to when they lost to Boston a few days ago, was the fact that this time we saw more of the role players step up and they didn’t just rely on their two star players to make all the plays. Raul Neto, Daniel Gafford, Rui Hachimura and Anthony Gill all scored double digit points, and Gafford also added 13 rebounds which gave him a double-double on the night. Although the rest of the team had great production, the Wizards star players also didn’t disappoint in the win. Russell Westbrook dropped 18 points, 8 rebounds, 15 assists and although he was once again ineffective from 3 point range, he did a very good job of facilitating the whole offence. The Wizards other star player, Bradley Beal, also had a much better game than he did a few days ago against Boston. Beal scored 25 points on 52.9% shooting whilst also shooting a very efficient 57.1% from 3 point range. The Wizards will now take on MVP Candidate, Joel Embiid, and the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Washington will no doubt go into the series as huge underdogs and will most likely lose the series, but you just never know, especially in the NBA Playoffs.
It’s a different story however for the Indiana Pacers, as their season has now officially come to an end. The Pacers were coming into this game on good form after they sent home LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the Play-in Tournament a few days ago. However, with their season on the line once again, they just couldn’t pull through and they gave up far too many points on defence to even have a chance at winning. Despite the loss, Indiana still had a few standout performers. All-Star forward, Domantas Sabonis showed up, dropping a triple double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, whilst also shooting 53.3% from the field. Malcolm Brogdon also had a good game at the point guard position, leading the team on the night with 24 points. However, in the end the Pacers simply didn’t get enough production from their team as a whole. Things could have been much different for Indiana if players such as Caris LeVert, Myles Turner and T.J. Warren didn’t miss the game through injury.
Tonight, we will see who officially claims the 8th seed in the Western Conference, as Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors will host Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams were involved in very close games in the first round of the Play-in tournament, so it promises to be a great encounter right from the tip off. The winner of this game, will take on the Utah Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.