Washington point guard Russell Westbrook, who left Wednesday’s 120-95 loss to the 76ers early in the fourth quarter with a right ankle sprain, is listed as questionable for Saturday’s Game 3 at Capital One Arena.
The Sixers lead the best of seven opening-round series, 2-0.
Westbrook’s departure from the game drew national headlines when a fan threw popcorn on the nine-time all-star as he was walking to the locker room. The attention now shifts to his availability for Game 3.
“He did not practice today, he got some treatment, that is all I know as of right now,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said in Zoom interview after Friday’s practice. “He got treatment (Thursday), I am sure he’s going to do it around the clock like he always does. He always tries to put himself in the best position to play and we will see how he feels (Saturday).”
Even though Westbrook has struggled offensively in the first two games, his loss would be difficult to overcome.
In the first two games, he has shot 9-for-27 from the field, including 0-for-5 from three-point range. As the statistics indicate, he has had trouble shooting from the perimeter, with just one field goal longer than 12 feet.
That said, he helps the Wizards in so many other ways. He has averaged 5.5 rebounds and 12.5 assists but is also averaging 5.0 turnovers.
Westbrook led the NBA with 38 triple-doubles this season and he is now the career leader with 184. He has yet to get a triple-double in the Wizards’ two play-in and two playoff games.
If Westbrook isn’t able to go, former Sixer Ish Smith could move into the lineup if the Wizards still want to start three guards, along with Bradley Beal and former Sixer Raul Neto.
Whether Westbrook plays or not, Brooks understands that the Wizards have their work cut out for them.
“They’ve got a lot of veterans and a lot of guys who know how to play and they got potentially an MVP,” Brooks said referring to Joel Embiid. “They’ve got high-level all-stars on that team but our guys are excited about that opportunity, we know we’re going to have a great crowd, they are going to be into the game and we will paly with that same spirt that put us in this position to be in the playoffs.”
The NBA announced potential scenarios of a second-round series involving the Sixers-Wizards winner against the winner of the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks and Hawks entered Friday’s game in Atlanta tied at one game apiece.
The second round would begin on June 6 if both first-round series end in six games or fewer. It would begin on June 8 if either first-round series goes to seven games.