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Wizards hope to get Bradley Beal back as Warriors visit

Jan 3, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) passes in the second quarter during game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards fans likely will have to wait until after pregame warmups Monday afternoon to learn whether star guard Bradley Beal will be able to return from his hamstring injury to face the visiting Golden State Warriors.

Beal, who has missed the last four games and seven of the last eight, was given a green light to return to full basketball activities on the practice floor Thursday. He was not, however, cleared to play Friday, when the Wizards dropped a 112-108 decision at home to the New York Knicks.

Washington has had two days off since the defeat, which has increased Beal’s chances of returning to the point where he wasn’t ruled out a day beforehand. Rather, he’s been listed as questionable, likely to be a game-time decision.

Beal has only played 24 games this season, having already had five-, six- and three-game absences before his current four-gamer.

With Beal watching, Kyle Kuzma put up a season-best 40 points in the loss to the Knicks. A 16.3-points-per-game career scorer, he’s now topped 30 five times this season, while eclipsing 20 on 28 occasions.

“This is all new for me,” he said of being a team’s top scorer. “I played with some great players, so watching them, understanding how teams guarded them, I’m kind of seeing those things now — especially when we have guys hurt.”

The Wizards have lost four of five and now get a visit from the defending champions. Turns out, that’s not as bad as it sounds.

The Warriors, who have fought injuries of their own, have been one of the league’s worst road teams this season. They fell to 4-17 away from home with a 132-118 loss in Chicago against the Bulls on Sunday afternoon.

Klay Thompson had a team-high 26 points in the loss, but he won’t play against the Wizards since he’s not been cleared for back-to-backs this season.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr announced Sunday that Stephen Curry, having just returned from an 11-game absence due to a separated left shoulder, has been given the OK to double-up, so he’s expected to face the Wizards.

Curry had 20 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes against the Bulls.

Besides possibly seeing Beal and not having Thompson, the Warriors might also have a mental obstacle Monday in that they’ve been invited to the White House by President Biden on their day off Tuesday to celebrate their 2022 championship.

“It’s kind of like the one last moment to reflect on the accomplishment,” Curry noted. “We’ve all kind of turned a page on what this year really means, but it is a really special honor. So definitely excited, our families are, and we’ll enjoy the moment.”

The Warriors and Wizards will be meeting for the first time this season. Curry had 47 points in a 126-112 home win over the Wizards last March, before Corey Kispert went for 25 points in a 123-115 Washington home win 13 days later.

Beal didn’t play in either head-to-head last year as his season ended 33 games early because of a torn ligament in his left wrist.

–Field Level Media