If it looked like Bradley Beal was moving better in the fourth quarter on Sunday in the Wizards' win over the Hornets, that's because he was.
The Wizards All-Star guard said his strained hamstring loosened up as the game transpired, which allowed him to drop 13 points in the final quarter after shooting 4-for-17 in the first half.
Beal had to knock off some rust after missing three games and not having practice time to prepare by playing 5-on-5. The fact he was able to rally the Wizards to victory is a good sign, though it's clear his injury will be a factor on Tuesday when the team heads to Boston for their first game of the postseason.
Beal addressed the media after Monday's practice and revealed the full extent of what it required just for him to play.
"Yesterday, I kind of made a hardheaded decision and played, probably when I shouldn’t have, but we made the best of it," he said.
"The medical staff, they weren’t 100 percent with it. Some guys were, some weren’t."
Beal said the decision to play was ultimately made by him, that the medical staff consulted him on the risks and he chose to play after weighing them. The risk was a setback which could have prevented him from playing on Tuesday in the play-in tournament, but he accepted the tradeoff.
"It’s never easy, honestly. I didn’t want my first game back to be the play-in game, which [the situation was] if we lost then all the marbles would be on Tuesday," he said.
"Even if that meant I could set myself back, even if that meant I might not be able to play on Tuesday. I understood how important this game was just in terms of a position standpoint."
Beal knew the stakes, how winning on Sunday gave the Wizards the No. 8 seed, which means they only have to win one game to make the playoffs. Finishing ninth or 10th would have required them winning two games in the play-in tournament to qualify.
Beal was able to get out of Sunday's game unscathed despite playing through obvious pain at times. In the first half, there was one play where he threw the ball down in frustration, then turned to members of the Wizards front office to say something.
As bad as it looked, Beal improved as the game went on. He's now ready to move forward and look ahead to Boston
"There was no setback, which is good. I didn’t injure it worse than it was. Obviously, it probably won’t be 100 percent. It’s just a matter of managing it the best I can," Beal said.