A couple of days after losing 118-100 to the Boston Celtics in the 7-8 matchup, the Wizards returned home and took care of business against the Indiana Pacers. By defeating them 142-115, Washington clinched the eighth seed in the East and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
The biggest turnaround between the two games for the Wizards was in Russell Westbrook's play.
Against Boston, the former MVP only finished with five assists, just two shy of his season-low and way off his regular-season average of 11.7, while also turning it over four times.
In the dominating win over the Pacers, however, he dished out 15 assists while committing just three turnovers and recorded a game-high plus-minus of +30 in 34 minutes of action.
18 PTS, 8 REB, 15 AST for @russwest44.#NBAPlayoff berth for @WashWizards.- NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2021
#8 WAS vs. #1 PHI, Round 1, Game 1 📅 Sunday, 1pm/et, TNT pic.twitter.com/u8FHAIDZjZ
"Attack," Westbrook said postgame in his interview with TNT's Inside the NBA crew when asked about his mentality coming off his rough game in Boston. "In Boston, I was terrible. I let my teammates down and I knew it. Coming into tonight, I wanted to set the tone in all aspects of the game."
"You ask my wife, my brother, my mom, my dad," Westbrook continued while discussing the 48 hours in between these two games. "They're probably so pissed with me right now…I wasn't my best when my team needed me the most."
For the fourth time in five seasons, Westbrook finished a season with a triple-double average of 22.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and a league-leading 11.5 assists. En route to those numbers, he passed Oscar Robertson's tally of 181 career triple-doubles.
It was his explosive play down the stretch of the season, recording 20 triple-doubles in the final 24 games of the season, that really sparked the Wizards to cap-off the regular season by winning 17 of their last 23, the league's second-best record since Apr. 7.
The Wizards are the 6th team under the current playoff format (since 1984) to make the playoffs after being 15+ games below .500.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 21, 2021
None of the other teams made it out of the 1st round.
H/T @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/Zh2Iq6bO2R
''Resiliency," Westbrook said postgame about the team's make-up. "We've been through so much. COVID, injuries but we stuck with it. We had a time in our season when we could have quit but the guys in the locker room didn't do it."
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