NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Hachimura stars as Wizards keep season alive

By Sports Desk June 01, 2021

The Washington Wizards have shown their confidence in Rui Hachimura from the very beginning, and he rewarded them Monday with one of the best games of his career. 

Hachimura scored 20 points on eight of 12 shooting from the field and grabbed 13 rebounds to play a key role in the Wizards' 122-114 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4 of their playoff series. 

Though the 23-year-old forward from Japan has started every game he has played for Washington in his two NBA seasons, his performance Monday had his team-mates and head coach Scott Brooks raving. 

"He's growing up right in front of our eyes. Sometimes I want these guys to be 27 right now and four seasons of playoff experience, but you get it by going through it," Brooks told reporters. 

"He was a big, big part of us on both ends of the floor. He's a multi-defender, he can guard many different types of player, and we need his rebounds. We can't just rely on our point guard getting rebounds. 

"He was good on guarding, he was good on making shots. He had a big three and had a big defensive possession not too far from one another."

Hachimura had a pair of key baskets late in the game, capped by a three-pointer off a pass from Bradley Beal that gave Washington a six-point lead over the top-seeded 76ers with 45.8 seconds to play. 

"It was a great pass by Brad. ... He trusted me and he passed to me, so I had to shoot with confidence," Hachimura said. "That was a big three for sure, especially at this moment.

"I was just trying to be aggressive on both ends, defensively and offensively. As a team I think we played together tonight, and that's why we got a win."

Getting contributions from players beyond the star back-court of Beal and Russell Westbrook is critical to the Wizards' chances, and Hachimura was the player who stepped up for Washington's first win in the series. 

After logging 27 and 26 minutes the previous two games, he played 41 Monday, making himself indispensable on both ends of the court. 

"For me, we always just want him to be aggressive and accept his challenges on the defensive end," Beal said. "That's when he has a good game, when he's locked in on defence, he's guarding somebody, he's making it tough on them, he's guarding Ben [Simmons], making it tough on him.

"Then he rebounded the ball really well tonight, too. I think him just being engaged in all facets of the game kind of propelled him on the offensive end and boosted his confidence. Once he seen one [shot] go in, he was making them all night." 

The key going forward is for Hachimura to play this way more consistently, but his coach liked what he saw in Game 4. 

"We're all trying to figure things out, with Rui and with everybody," Brooks said. "This has been a season of figuring it out on the fly at times, but when Rui gets that gear, that's what we need.

"He's had it, it's been choppy at times through some of his unfortunate injuries and safety protocol. He seems to ramp up and then something unfortunate takes place. But he's in a good place."

Related items

  • 18-year-old phenom Victor Wembanyama dominates again in second United States showcase 18-year-old phenom Victor Wembanyama dominates again in second United States showcase

    Victor Wembanyama put on a show for the NBA scouts in attendance for Metropolitans 92's 112-106 victory against G League Ignite on Thursday.

    Wembanyama, 18, is viewed as the best NBA prospect since LeBron James entered the 2003 draft straight out of high school, standing at seven-foot-four while demonstrating tremendous movement, ball handling and shooting touch. 

    After posting 37 points with five blocks while shooting seven-of-11 from three-point range in his United States debut on Tuesday, the future top overall draft pick backed it up with 36 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks in his second go.

    The exhibition series was conceived to allow Wembanyama to go head-to-head with fellow top prospect Scoot Henderson, who is signed to the G League. Unfortunately, a knee-on-knee collision between the two headline stars five minutes into the first quarter ended Henderson's night, although he is expected to make a quick recovery after being diagnosed with a bone bruise.

    Wembanyama will spend this season playing professionally in France's top league, and his agent confirmed the young phenom has no interest in shutting things down to protect his stock for the draft.

  • Warriors GM Bob Myers calls fight between Green and Poole 'unfortunate' Warriors GM Bob Myers calls fight between Green and Poole 'unfortunate'

    Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers called Wednesday's practice fight between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole "unfortunate".

    Initially reported by The Athletic, Wednesday's session turned heated and led to the two players becoming involved in an altercation.

    Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes later claimed "league sources" said "there was a build-up stemming from team-mates noticing a change in Poole’s behaviour throughout camp with the guard on the verge of securing a lucrative extension".

    Speaking to the media on Thursday, Myers said fights in practice will always be a part of highly competitive team sports.

    "Everybody's fine," he said. "Look, it's the NBA, professional sports, these things happen. Nobody likes it. We don't condone it, but it happened.

    "Draymond apologised to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in the room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that.

    "It's unfortunate, I'm not going to deny it. It'll take some time to move through, but we'll move through it and move forward, and I'm confident that we will. 

    "We've got a good team, we've got good leadership, we've got some guys that have been here a long time.

    "This isn't our first thing that's happened, first sense of adversity; we've been through some of this before. Don't like going through it, but it's part of the NBA and it's part of sports."

    But Myers suggested reports of conflict relating to player contracts were wide of the mark, saying "[it's not about] who's getting paid and who isn't; I don't sense that".

    Green was not at practice on Thursday, with Myers adding "space is good" and that time is needed to cool things down. 

    Myers finished by saying any potential suspension for Green will be handled internally.

    Poole, 23, is coming off a career-best season in which he became a major asset for the championship-winning Warriors, averaging 17 points per game in the playoffs at over 50 per cent shooting while leading the NBA in free throw percentage (92.5 per cent).

    This upcoming season will be the last of his rookie contract, and he will be expecting an extension similar to that recently awarded to the Miami Heat's Tyler Herro, in the region of four years and $130million.

    Meanwhile, Green is also in a crucial contract year, as after the season he will have the ability to opt out of the final campaign of his four-year, $99m deal to seek what will likely be the last big extension of his career.

  • Mitchell admits Cavs preseason debut was 'definitely weird' after blockbuster trade Mitchell admits Cavs preseason debut was 'definitely weird' after blockbuster trade

    Three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell admitted his preseason debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers was "definitely weird" following his blockbuster offseason trade from the Utah Jazz.

    Mitchell left the Jazz after five seasons in Salt Lake City, opting against a move to the New York Knicks to join an exciting Cavs line-up where he will play in the backcourt alongside Darius Garland.

    The Cavs also boast All-Star Jarrett Allen and 2021-22 Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley along with veteran Kevin Love, offering hope of their first playoffs campaign since 2017-18.

    Mitchell played 19 minutes, scoring 16 points on six-for-nine shooting, including three three-pointers along with five assists, in the Cavs' 113-112 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in his first outing for his new franchise.

    "Today, I just kind of sat there and had one of those moments where you sit there and look out and see everything, and it's like, 'Wow. It's really here'," Mitchell said.

    "Then once you get on the court, basketball is basketball. But all the little things, it's definitely weird. A little different. But I'm excited. It's going the way I thought it would, in a good way.

    "It just didn't feel real… it still didn't hit me yet."

    Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was pleased with Mitchell's initial cohesion alongside All-Star point guard Garland.

    "I thought it was pretty seamless," Bickerstaff said. "The way they played together, the way the ball moved, everybody got involved.

    "As long as we play in the same style we want to play, where it isn't just based on one guy, but based on the team, I think it's going to work out well for us."

    The Cavs finished last season with a 44-38 record, missing the playoffs after losing in the Play-In Tournament to the Atlanta Hawks in the number eight seed game.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.