Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook, who left Wednesday’s 120-95 loss to the 76ers early in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle, was in the starting lineup in Saturday’s 132-103 loss to the Sixers in Game 3 at Capital One Arena.
When Westbrook headed to the locker room early in the fourth quarter of Game 2 to get his ankle examined, it turned into a national incident when a fan dumped popcorn on the nine-time All-Star. The Sixers revoked the season-ticket membership of the fan and the person is banned indefinitely from all events at the Wells Fargo Center.
Lost in all that was how much Westbrook was hurting. Before Saturday’s game, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said Westbrook didn’t take part in any basketball activity since suffering the injuryand was getting ‘round the clock treatment.
“He is diligent and making sure he is doing everything possible for a chance to be on the floor,” Brooks said during his pre-game interview with the media.
At that time, Westbrook was listed as questionable and Brooks called him a “game-time decision.”
Westbrook didn’t appear bothered by the injury on Saturday. He recorded a triple-double, 26 points: 12 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his 11th career playoff triple-double.
After shooting 0-for-5 from three-point range in the first two games, Westbrook hit 3 of 6 shots from deep, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Curry in Sixers starting lineup
Seth Curry, who left Wednesday’s game in the third quarter and didn’t return because of left ankle soreness, was in the Sixers’ starting lineup.
He got off to a quick start, scoring seven first-quarter points (3-for-4 from the field, including 1-for-2 from three) as the Sixers led, 36-28, after one.
For the game, Curry finished with 15 points, shooting 6-for-11, including 3-for-6 from deep.
Curry didn’t practice Friday, but even then coach Doc Rivers said he expected Curry to be able to play. Even though Curry played just 23 minutes, 5 seconds in Game 2, he tied with Joel Embiid for the highest rating, plus-19.
Besides winning the first three playoff games, the Sixers’ starting lineup of Curry, Ben Simmons, Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Danny Green, was 27-5 in the regular season.
Bertans in as a starter
Washington did make a change in its starting lineup, inserting sharpshooter Davis Bertans for former Sixers guard Raul Neto.
During the Sixers’ 125-118 win in Game 1, the 6-foot-10 Bertans came off the bench to score 14 points, hitting 4-of-8 from three-point range.
Like most of the rest of his team, Bertans struggled during Wednesday’s loss, going scoreless, missing his four field goal attempts, all from three-point range, and fouling out.
Bertans finished with eight points, shooting 1-for-5 from deep.
The Sixers, like most NBA teams, had little time to catch their breath during the regular season. They played their final 36 games during the second half of the season in 67 days.
Since then, time off has not been a problem.
While teams like the Wizards had to participate in play-in games, the Sixers had a full week off before their final regular-season game and last Sunday’s playoff opener. More than that, the starters didn’t play in that last regular-season game, so they had eight full days off.
Then, the Sixers had two full days off before Game 2 and another two full days off before Saturday’s Game 3. This is now a refreshed team.
“I think it’s been great for us personally to be able to recuperate from this season,” said Sixers center Dwight Howard, following Saturday’s morning shootaround.
Howard, 35, who appeared in 69 of the 72 games, said getting through the regular season was no easy task, but that is all in the past.
“We had really tough stretches of games, five games in seven nights and all over the place,” Howard said. “So now we can actually get our minds right.”