- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Just a few days before the playoffs are slated to begin, the Washington Wizards found out they will be without back center Ian Mahinmi to start them.

Mahinmi is out of Wednesday night’s finale against the Miami Heat, and coming games, because of a strained left calf. He will be re-evaluated in 7-10 days. Washington is expected to open the playoffs Saturday or Sunday. It is the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and will host the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

Mahinmi missing time was first reported by the Washington Post.

Mahinmi, 30, has been besieged by injuries in his first season with Washington. Preseason knee surgery caused his season debut to be delayed until Nov. 26. He did not play again until Feb. 8. Mahinmi received platelet-rich plasma injections in both knees in December, which further delayed his recovery.

Once he played his way into shape, Mahinmi discovered a strong rhythm as Washington’s best post defender. His minutes on the floor increased each month and he was essentially splitting time with starting center Marcin Gortat in April.

But, Mahinmi’s calf was injured Monday against the Detroit Pistons when he challenged a jump shot. He left the game right after the play and did not return.

Atlanta starts burly center Dwight Howard, though it plays Mike Muscala, who is more of a stretch-four than a center, behind him. Without Mahinmi, the Wizards are likely to use Markieff Morris and Jason Smith more at center. Both can guard Muscala, who takes about a third of his shots from behind the 3-point line.

Washington also chose to rest starters John Wall, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris in Wednesday night’s regular-season finale. Otto Porter was back in the starting lineup after missing consecutive games because of back spasms.

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