Russell Westbrook wasn’t about to let the Indiana Pacers stand in the way of a playoff berth.
The NBA star led his Washington Wizards to an emphatic 142-115 win over their Eastern Conference foe on Thursday night (May 20), clinching the 8th seed in the process.
Despite a slew of injuries, COVID-19 outbreaks and losing streaks, Westbrook delivered on his promise that he’d help get his team to the playoffs. Against the Pacers, he scored 18 points, had 15 assists and grabbed eights boards during the play-in tournament game.
"We were struggling and everybody was down on the outside and we had to figure out a way to knuckle up and make the playoffs," Westbrook said about his playoff promise to the team, according to ESPN. "Simple as that. I didn't care what happened in the previous games. ... We had to figure ourselves out, look at ourselves in the mirror, starting with myself. I made it clear to the guys that we'll make it."
Washington was a dismal 17-32 in early April, and with their win over the Pacers, become the first team to make the playoffs after being 15 games under .500 during the season since the 1996-97 Phoenix Suns.
Next up, the Wizards will face the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.