Wizards’ Russell Westbrook details speech that helped spark Washington’s playoff race
The Wizards nabbed a playoff berth Thursday night due to their win over the Pacers. It was a great victory for the team which marked a remarkable comeback for them.
It was one that was, unsurprisingly, triggered by Russell Westbrook.
After Washington’s victory over Indiana, Westbrook explained that during the Wizards’ bouts he gave a speech and said they would make the playoffs. Despite all their problems at the start of the season, he turned out to be right.
“We were wrestling and everyone was down on the outside and we had to find a way to fight and make the playoffs,” Westbrook said, by ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “It’s that simple. I didn’t care what happened in previous games. … We had to understand each other, look at each other in the mirror, starting with myself.
“I made it clear to the guys that we would get there.”
The Wizards went 17-6 down the home stretch and played in the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. They needed to win just one play-in game and did so against the Pacers.
They were scored by Westbrook, who carried the team, averaging 23 points, 13.5 rebounds and 14 assists in the last 23 games of the season. Most importantly, coach Scott Brooks was impressed with Westbrook’s leadership during a difficult season.
“I don’t even remember which game [it was], he gave a very passionate and very direct conversation to the group, “said Brooks.” He was like, I’m not going through this season and not making the playoffs. Not that he predicted it, but he said I won’t let that happen and I won’t make the playoffs. We will engage and fight for each other.
“[It was] almost like, you better be ready for what’s going to happen, and it turned around. “
Now wizards will seek to maintain the magic. It won’t be easy as they will face the best team in the East, the 76ers, in the first round of the playoffs. But win or lose, Westbrook will prepare them to play hard.