Wizards' Brooks Loves Play-In Tournament, Makes LeBron Joke

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Head Coach Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder coaches Russell Westbrook #0 against the Cleveland Cavaliers
Head Coach Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder coaches Russell Westbrook #0 against the Cleveland Cavaliers

While the NBA play-in tournament has generated criticism, it also has drawn the praise of some, including Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks.

Brooks and the Wizards will enter as the eighth-ranked team in the Eastern Conference and will battle the Boston Celtics on Tuesday for a chance to secure the seventh seed for the postseason.

Before talking about how beneficial the tweak in the season competition format has been for their side, the mentor first poked fun by jokingly mocking LeBron James in light of the Los Angeles Lakers star's recent comments on the play-in.

"We are the eighth seed and now we know who we are going to play.  Actually, I'm with the king. Why did they have this play-in thing? Whoever did that, they need to be fired. It's ridiculous," Brooks said, referencing James's quote from weeks ago where he wanted the creators of the tournament fired.

Brooks then backtracked and offered his honest assessment of the upcoming games: 

"No, I'm kidding. I love this. It created so much excitement the last two weeks. Anytime you can create excitement and meaningful games in the last 10 games of the season is great for everyone involved-fans, TV partners, everybody."

In its regular season coverages, ESPN, the broadcast partner for the tournament, markets it as "win to get in [the playoffs]."

Should the Wizards lose, they still have a shot at making the playoffs if they beat the winner of the initial Indiana Pacers-Charlotte Hornets ninth-versus-10th match-up.

"I love it; even though now we are the 8th seed, I still love it. It gives us a chance to go play against a great team like Boston and who knows what might happen," Brooks stated.

The Wizards started off on the wrong foot, having players placed in health and safety protocols--and at one point not even being able to practice due to lack of bodies.

But a nine-game winning streak in April coupled with Russell Westbrook's sheer dominance night in and night out contributed to Washington's 34-38 finish in the East.

The Wizards have a league-best 17 wins since April 7.

"I am excited that we fought all year long and we stuck together. I will always remember the group because trust me," Brooks shared,  "there were times where, how many more things can go against us, but we still battled, we had a lot of injuries, a lot of health and safety protocol things, and just a lot of crazy weird stuff that happened... but we battled."

Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards
Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards
Photo: Getty Images | Carmen Mandato

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