The Wizards qualified for the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament by virtue of their 120-105 win Friday over the Cavaliers.
And they can thank Russell Westbrook for getting them there.
With Bradley Beal sidelined for a third consecutive game, it fell on Westbrook to shoulder the load against Cleveland. Westbrook was up to the task, posting 21 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists in a team-high 40 minutes.
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It was Westbrook’s seventh game in a row of at least 15 assists, a feat that has only been matched by two Hall of Famers: John Stockton and Isiah Thomas.
Westbrook’s breakout in the second half of the season is a massive reason why the Wizards have made a remarkable run to the play-in tournament. In early April, the team was 17-32 and looked to be en route to another lottery pick.
In their last 22 games, the Wizards have gone 16-6 to climb to 10th in the East. Westbrook has been the catalyst, averaging 23.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 14.1 assists per game in that span.
And if the Wizards want to make unexpected noise in the playoffs, he’ll have to continue his high-level play.