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Injury suffered against Wizards likely to sideline Kevin Durant until playoffs

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USA Today Sports

Injury suffered against Wizards likely to sideline Kevin Durant until playoffs

Kevin Durant was in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night to take on the Wizards for the first time as a member of the Warriors, and the return to his hometown ended in the worst way possible.

Durant exited the first quarter of the Wizards' 112-108 victory with a knee injury after teammate Zaza Pachulia accidentally collided with him.

Durant was ruled out for the rest of the game with a hyper extended knee and was set to undergo an MRI to reveal the severity of the injury.

On Wednesday morning, the Warriors announced the results of the MRI, and while it's not terrible it certainly isn't good.

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"Following reviews of the MRI by the Warriors' medical staff, it has been determined that Durant suffered a Grade 2 Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) sprain and a tibial bone bruise," the official press release stated. "He will be out of action indefinitely and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. There is no timetable for his return, but it has not been ruled out that he could play again before the end of the regular season."

With the regular season coming to an end mid-April, Durant would be tentatively slated for a return with six games remaining before the playoffs.

Unless the Warriors go on a considerable losing streak, they are more than likely to be the top seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket. While it would be ideal to get Durant some playing time before the playoffs begin, it may not be worth it, especially considering how rare it is for No. 8 seeds to upset No. 1 seeds in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Could life for the Warriors without Durant be different?

Perhaps, but it was last year, and the team won an NBA record 73 regular-season games and were one win away from back-to-back NBA championships.

 

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Real Marquee Matchup: Bradley Beal looks to keep historic streak going vs. Nets

Real Marquee Matchup: Bradley Beal looks to keep historic streak going vs. Nets

It is only natural when a player has a big game, like scoring 50 points, to wonder if they can do it again. Bradley Beal actually did that this week, scoring 55 points against the Bucks just one night after dropping 53 on the Bulls.

Now he goes into Wednesday night with a chance to do something no one has done since Kobe Bryant in 2007: score 50 points in three consecutive games. Only four players have ever gone for 50-plus in three straight: Bryant, Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain.

Beal, of course, has technically scored 53-plus in two straight games. If he were to somehow do that a third time, he would be only the second player to accomplish the feat. Chamberlain is the other.

Basically, if Beal were to go off for 50 or more again, it would put him in extremely rare company, even rarer than the group he joined on Monday night. So, expectations should definitely be set accordingly.

That said, Beal happens to have some recent success against the team he will face on Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets. Beal has scored 30-plus in his last three meetings with them, shooting 53.7 percent from the field along the way. The Wizards won two of those three games. 

Earlier this month, Beal went off for 34 points with six rebounds, three steals and three blocks against Brooklyn. He has their number.

The Nets, though, are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They boast the seventh-best defensive rating (107.9), are fourth in opponent field goal percentage (44.1) and ninth in three-point percentage (34.5).

And those numbers are while playing a lot of games with Kyrie Irving. Though Irving is one of the most gifted offensive players in the league, there is reason to believe Brooklyn could get better defensively now that he is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Can Beal keep it rolling? Watch at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Rui Hachimura on guarding MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo: 'I'm not scared'

Rui Hachimura on guarding MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo: 'I'm not scared'

WASHINGTON -- There is really only so much you can do to prepare for guarding reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for the first time, as Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura did on Monday night. You can watch all of the film and try to recreate what he does in practice, but part of what makes Antetokounmpo so great is that there is no one quite like him when it comes to his size, speed and mobility.

Hachimura, though, didn't do too bad in his first meeting with the Greek Freak. In fact, he helped lead a Wizards effort that limited Antetokounmpo to 22 points with eight turnovers, and that saw him foul out late in the fourth quarter.

According to NBA.com's tracking data, Hachimura forced three of those turnovers. He guarded Antetokounmpo to begin the game and very quickly set a physical tone with bump-and-run defense.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the decision to put Hachimura on Antetokounmpo, the NBA's best player, matter-of-factly.

"It's his position. He's going to have to guard a lot of good fours in this league. There is nobody better," Brooks said.

Hachimura has been much better offensively than defensively so far in his NBA career, which is common for rookies. But he was up to the challenge playing Antetokounmpo.

"I’m not scared, I just have to guard him – that’s my job," Hachimura said. "Just have to be physical."

Indeed, initiating contact was a big part of Hachimura's success against the Bucks big man. These two plays demonstrate that well.

On the first, Hachimura was aggressive in denying Antetkounmpo the ball at the rim:

On this one, Hachimura trailed him off the dribble and forced him away from the basket:

As both Brooks and Hachimura said, however, it was a team effort. Brooks said anytime you are defending Antetokounmpo, "you have to have all 10 eyeballs on him."

Antetokounmpo is, after all, the league's most dominant player. And even though he had those eight turnovers and got into foul trouble, he still had 22 points and 14 rebounds in 24 minutes. 

Success is relative with a player like Antetokounmpo. But fouling him out and forcing some miscues helped the Wizards overcome a 20-point second-half deficit and reach overtime. 

Hachimura's effort was a big reason why.

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