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Close to returning, Wizards' Mahinmi can't wait to 'be part of this story'

Close to returning, Wizards' Mahinmi can't wait to 'be part of this story'

Having missed 49 of the Wizards' 50 games this season, center Ian Mahinmi has had a lot of time to think over the last few months. He was the team's biggest acquisition in free agency, joining Washington on a four-year, $64 million deal, but so far he has been sidelined for all but 14 minutes of regular season action due to numerous knee problems.

It all began with a partially torn left meniscus in a preseason game against the Sixers, which required surgery on Oct. 15. He then returned against the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 26, only to go back down with right knee tendinitis. A visit with Dr. James Andrews later and he was sidelined again for months after undergoing platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment on both knees.

Now, after practicing with the Wizards for the first time on Friday, Mahinmi is almost back.

"This is definitely the closest I have been in a minute. It's really good. I'm just happy to be back," he said.

Mahinmi, 30, admits that it has been a difficult road back.

"It has been very tough, especially for a guy like me that rarely gets hurt like that. Last time I hurt myself like that was my rookie year when I was with the Spurs. That was 10 years ago. Me being out for an extended period of time like that is very challenging. I really had to take a step back and work. Be focused on my work one day at a time. Stay positive. Be there for my teammates for whatever they needed. Stay engaged and just be patient. It has been tough," he explained.

Mahinmi had never done PRP treatment before, but says "it went great." He feels very close to 100 percent and could return sometime this coming week, before the All-Star break.

When Mahinmi gets back, he will return to a Wizards team that has reached 10 games over .500 at 30-20, won seven straight games and 17 straight at home. They hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference and continue to rise by the week.

This is all after they started 2-8 and were left for dead by many in the media. Mahinmi has been on the sidelines watching it all, but now he's ready to play his part.

"It's been great. It's been great because we talked about it at the beginning of the year. We put all the stress on us, the team. We said that we can make this year great, we can also make this year one of the better years. It was on us from the start. Guys took on the challenge. It's been great watching the guys bounce back after such a rough start. It gives me that much [motivation] to get back and be part of this story. This chapter that has been opened this year, with all the ups and downs, I really want to be a part of that. I can't wait to get back on the court and be back in the mix," he said.

[RELATED: Paul Pierce: Isaiah Thomas is 'easily the best point guard' in the East]

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How to Watch Wizards vs. Pacers NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 55-point game vs. Bucks

How to Watch Wizards vs. Pacers NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 55-point game vs. Bucks

Sunday night was supposed to feature another exciting Wizard’s game against the Indiana Pacers. However, because the NBA season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, games are not being played as planned. 

Although fans can’t tune into Wizards games in a traditional sense, just like everything else in the world right now, there is a virtual alternative. The Wizards vs. Pacers game will still go on as planned but will be an NBA 2K20 video game simulation. 

This format allows fans to watch a broadcast of the video game where the computer has control. Additionally, the game will feature commentary from NBC Sports Washington’s Wizards experts.

The Wizards fun continues after the game ends, as there is a replay of a game against the Bucks from earlier this season when Bradley Beal hit 55 points in his second of back-to-back 50-points games.

Here's everything you need to join the Wizards action on Sunday night. 

When: 

Sunday, April 5 at 7 PM ET

Where:

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule

07:00 PM: NBA 2K20 Simulation: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (P)

08:00 PM: NBA Classics: Milwaukee Bucks @ Wizards (R)

10:30 PM: NBA 2K20 Simulation: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (R)

11:30 PM: NBA Classics: Brooklyn Nets @ Wizards (R)

Starting lineups

Wizards: TBD
Pacers: TBD

If you miss the NBA basketball season like all do, tune into NBC Sports Washington on Sunday night to experience the best alternative to a live game. 

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Wizards use strong finish against 76ers to pull out another 2K simulation win

Wizards use strong finish against 76ers to pull out another 2K simulation win

In yet another close finish, the Wizards won their fifth game in seven tries in Friday night's NBA 2K simulation. They managed to take down the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 74-69, who were no doubt hindered by the absence of young star Ben Simmons. 

Bradley Beal starred with 28 points in the game, including 10 in the first quarter, but it was Shabazz Napier who sealed the deal with eight points in the decisive fourth quarter. With 30 seconds left in the game, Napier rebounded his own miss and found Thomas Bryant for a short jumper to seal the victory.

Napier finished with 14 points and 6 assists, and he and Beal combined to go a perfect 8-8 at the free throw line in the game.

The young guard also dished it out, including one of the game's biggest highlights when he found a flying Rui Hachimura above the rim.

Here are some key takeaways from the Wizards' latest win.

Strong runs bookend the game

The Wizards struggled in the middle of the game, but they both started and finished strong.

Buoyed by their strong defense, the Wizards took advantage of Ben Simmons' injury to completely stifle the 76ers early. After the first quarter, Washington led 19-10 and looked like they might run away with the game. 

After allowing the 76ers to chip away in the second and third quarters, the Wizards found themselves trailing midway through the fourth quarter. Then, Napier and Beal took over once more, combining for 14 points in the quarter during a key 18-4 Wizards run.

Strong paint performance

The Wizards allowed Philadelphia to record seven blocks in the game, but otherwise dominated in the paint. Even without Ben Simmons on the floor, 76ers center Joel Embiid couldn't get going, finishing the first half with zero points.

On the other side of the court, the Wizards saw great production from their frontcourt. Thomas Bryant has been consistently pulling in rebounds in recent games, and that remained true with nine more boards Friday night.

Moe Wagner was all over the place for the Wizards as well, just missing a double-double. He finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with 3 blocks.

Overall, the Wizards outscored the 76ers 46-32 in the paint in the game. 

Wizards overcome lack of 3-point shooting

In the era of pace-and-space, it's rare to see a team win without shooting the ball well. But that's exactly what happened Friday night. While the Wizards enjoyed a big advantage in the paint, they struggled to find their shots from beyond the arc.

Washington made just two 3-point shots in the game, attempting only six. Bradley Beal missed his only attempt from long range, and notorious marksman Davis Bertans finished the game with zero total shot attempts.

The 76ers' shooting night wasn't much better. Philadelphia finished 6-of-18 on three-point shots, with Tobias Harris making half of those thanks to a 3-for-5 night.

Other parting thoughts

Beal may not have had the game's biggest highlights, but even in the virtual world he cannot be stopped from scoring.

Scoring 28 points in 26 minutes is the definition of a video game statline. His 12 points in the third quarter were crucial in keeping the Wizards in the lead.

Rui Hachimura may not have had his best statistical performance, but one of the top rookies in the league managed to impress with his court vision.

There are few things more beautiful in (virtual) basketball than great defense turning into easy transition offense.

Having won five of their last seven games, the 2K Wizards will head to Indiana Sunday to take on a quality virtual Pacers team. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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