The Miami Heat received a lucky break two hours prior to tip-off in Washington, D.C. after the Wizards ruled Russell Westbrook out. The nine-time All-Star guard was listed with a new left quadriceps injury. Raul Neto will start in his place tonight at point guard.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks announced the injury during his media availability around 5:15 p.m. on Saturday. Westbrook had been dealing with two other ailments — a right quadriceps injury, plus a dislocated right ring finger — but the left quadriceps issue is new and unrelated. The 32-year-old was averaging 19.3 points and 11.3 assists in 37.1 minutes per game this season. His absence is a huge advantage for the Heat.
Westbrook has missed two games so far for the Wizards due to injury. He scored 12 points in Friday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics after hurting his finger two nights before versus the Philadelphia 76ers. He finished with 20 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in that game.
UPDATE: Jerome Robinson started for Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal who was pulled from the starting lineup due to health and safety and contact tracing exposure to Jayson Tatum. The Boston Celtics star tested positive for COVID-19 and the two were in close proximity the other night, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Tatum has to quarantine for 10-14 days.
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Wizards Coach Praises Heat Star Bam Adebayo
Brooks gave a ringing endorsement for Heat star Bam Adebayo in his pregame comments, too. The All-Star center is averaging 18.6 points and 8.0 rebounds in 31.7 minutes per game this season. He earned huge compliments last year from NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley and Brooks piled on the love.
The Wizards head coach called Adebayo “as good as they get” and predicted the 23-year-old big man would be an “All-Star probably for the next 10 years.”
Heat president Pat Riley obviously saw the same thing when he handed Adebayo a five-year extension worth at least $163 million back in November. Riley sees him as a foundational piece for the organization.
“One of the most important things a franchise can do is to make sure that your best, youngest, cornerstone players sign on the dotted line,” Riley said in a statement at the time. “Getting Bam his extension was a no-brainer for us because we know he will be around for years to come. That’s great for the Heat, great for the fans and great for Bam.”
Bradley Beal Trade Talks Still on Table?
The rumor mill has cooled on the James Harden rumors, but Beal’s name keeps popping up in potential trade pieces for Miami. Beal will be on the floor tonight as the enemy and maybe he can use it as an audition to join the Heat.
Fadeaway World recently proposed a “blockbuster trade idea” that would send Beal to South Beach in exchange for Andre Iguodala, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kelly Olynyk. That is a ton to give up for the 27-year-old scoring machine. Then again, a backcourt comprised of Beal and Jimmy Butler would be downright unstoppable.
Beal is averaging 35.0 points per game for the Wizards. And Washington GM Tommy Sheppard has gone on record several times saying he’s not trading Beal. The third overall pick from the 2012 draft seems content where he is, but takes all the trade rumors as a sign of respect.
“It’s not the first time I’ve heard this kind of talk,” Beal told ESPN last year. “It’s interesting. To me, I look at it as a sign of respect, that I’ve been doing good things and guys want to play with me.”
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