Bradley Beal had one of his best performances of the season on Saturday night, dropping 50 points in the Washington Wizards' overtime win over the Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately, the game ended with him on the sideline in serious pain due to various injuries, the worst of which being a hamstring strain.
As it turns out, the hamstring injury will keep him out for at least the next two games. On Monday, the Wizards announced that Beal will miss the team's next two games against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and Wednesday. He was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain after undergoing an MRI, and will be reevaluated on Friday when Washington takes on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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This is not the way the Wizards would have hoped to enter the final week of the regular season. With four games to play, they sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings. While the Wizards are all but guaranteed a spot in the play-in tournament, they're only one game behind the Charlotte Hornets for eighth with one game left to play against them. There's plenty of incentive for the Wizards to make that push as well, because getting to eighth puts them in a double-elimination situation, whereas if they finish ninth or 10th they would be eliminated with just one loss.
- The seventh-place team will host the eighth-place team in a one-game matchup. The winner of that game will earn the No. 7 seed in the playoffs.
- The ninth-place team will host the 10th-place team in a one-game matchup. The loser of that game is eliminated.
- The loser of the seventh place vs. eighth place game will host the winner of the ninth place vs. 10th place game in a one-game matchup. The winner of that game will earn the No. 8 seed in the playoffs, and the loser of that game will be eliminated.
- From that point, the playoffs will proceed as usual, beginning Saturday, May 22.
While playoff seeding is the most important thing for Beal and the Wizards this week, it's not the only item on the docket. Beal's injury will also impact the thrilling scoring title race between him and Steph Curry. After Beal dropped 50 on Saturday, Curry responded with 49 of his own to maintain his lead.
As it stands, Curry is at 31.9 points per game, while Beal sits at 31.4. The bad news for Beal is he obviously can't improve on that mark without playing, though on the flip side he can't make it worse either. That technically gives him a shot if Curry were to falter, but it's hard to see that happening with the form he's been in lately.