- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2021

The Washington Wizards are getting the national treatment. But they’ll do so without their best player. 

The Wizards‘ game Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks will now be televised by ESPN — but Washington will play without star Bradley Beal, who is out at least two games with a hamstring strain. 

The Wizards announced Monday that Beal will miss at least Monday and Wednesday — both against the Hawks — as he recovers from the injury. Beal suffered a mild strain in Saturday’s win over the Indiana Pacers. The three-time All-Star had 50 points, but the pain prevented Beal from playing in the final seconds of the fourth quarter and all of overtime. Beal previously left the contest with an injured ankle, as well. 

Beal‘s injury is not great timing for the Wizards as they look to secure a spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament, which takes place May 18. Washington has four games left in the regular season.

Beal said he didn’t know when he first tweaked his hamstring, but felt tightness in the second half. He said he aggravated it further when he went for a layup on Doug McDermott. 

“That kind of intensified it a little bit and then the floater I missed at the end, kind of put it over the top for me,” Beal said. “Coach just played it smart and got me out of there.”

The Wizards are 1-7 without Beal this season. The 27-year-old’s longest absence was due to a knee injury, missing five games from late March to early April. 

Beal‘s injury could also affect his chances of winning the league’s scoring title. Despite putting up 50 against the Pacers, Beal trails Golden State’s Stephen Curry in the race by a narrow margin: 31.4 points per game to Curry’s 31.9. 

Curry scored 49 points in 29 minutes Saturday in the Warriors’ win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Curry was asked if he knew Beal had scored 50 prior to the Warriors’ tip off.

“Of course I did,” Curry said. “I know what he’s doing. He’s obviously been playing at a high level, but anytime somebody gets 50, you hear about it.” 

As for the Wizards, the move to ESPN marks the second time the Wizards have been flexed to national television. The network also televised last month’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

The Wizards have become more of a national storyline in the second half of the season as Washington has won 15 of its last 19. The Wizards also have had plenty of star power in Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.

There’s a chance that Westbrook could break Oscar Robertson’s all-time triple-double mark on Wednesday, though he can do it as soon as Monday when the Wizards play the Hawks. Westbrook, tied with Robertson at 181, needs just one triple-double to hold the milestone. 

Wednesday’s game will now start at 7 p.m.


• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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