In the fourth quarter of the Washington Wizards’ Game 2 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Russell Westbrook hobbled off with an ankle injury. As he made his way into the tunnel, a fan dumped popcorn on his head, prompting an irate Westbrook to start exchanging words as he was held back by security and team personnel.
The fan, who was ejected and banned from the arena by the Sixers, apologized to Westbrook in a statement. As that incident dominated headlines in recent days, it was easy to forget about Westbrook’s injury, which is why he was walking off the court in the first place.
But as the series moves back to D.C., Westbrook’s status is moving front and center. The point guard did not practice on Friday, and is officially listed as questionable for Game 3, which is set for Saturday night. Beyond that, the Wizards didn’t have much else to say. Coach Scott Brooks told reporters that Westbrook will continue to receive treatment and will test the ankle before the game. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Brooks said.
While Westbrook has struggled so far in this series — 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 12.5 assists per game on 30.6 percent shooting — it would still be a huge loss for the Wizards if he’s unable to suit up. His incredible play down the stretch, along with Bradley Beal, is why the Wizards are even in the playoffs after their awful start.
They don’t have anyone who could replace his intensity, leadership and ability to get into the paint and create for himself and others. Yes, he’s played poorly so far, but if he rediscovers the form he had over the last few weeks of the regular season, they at least have a chance to take Game 3 and get back in the series. Without him, there’s just no way they have the talent to match up with the Sixers.