The Wizards have been here before in dire times, with no John Wall to lean on. In last year's playoffs, Bradley Beal took on a greater role in the Eastern Conference semifinals as the Wizards came close to advancing without their star point guard for three games.
Beal averaged better than seven assists per game when Wall sat with a broken left hand/wrist in that series with the Atlanta Hawks and scored 20, 17 and 34 points. He went for a game-high 25 points in Wednesday's 121-103 win vs. the Brooklyn Nets when Wall (right knee bruise) sat out.
Wall is questionable to play tonight at the Detroit Pistons (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 7 p.m. ET). A loss eliminates the Wizards after two consecutive postseason runs. A win doesn't guarantee anything but keeps them in the hunt.
Like in those playoff games, Beal started next to Ramon Sessions who had 18 points and 13 assists in just 29 minutes against Brooklyn. Just as important, Sessions had just one turnover and the Wizards (38-40) only gave the ball away twice in the second half to break open a close contest.
“The biggest thing was playing with more energy, focus, taking advantage of our opponent. Taking care of the ball was the biggest thing," Beal said of Wednesday's game. "We had a lot of turnovers in the first half. A lot of unforced lackadaisical turnovers. We just wanted to keep them down to a minimum, and just try to get a shot up each time down the stretch in the second half.”
Sessions had 21 points in replacing Wall in that first game vs. Atlanta. He shot 8 of 14 but dished out just four assists as the Wizards were minus-10 with him on the floor and lost. In the next playoff game, he only had eight points on 2 of 10 shooting but he had six assists and they were plus-three in a victory.
It's not necessary that Sessions scores in bunches as long as he gets others (mainly Beal) involved first. He'll be able to get his shots though the Pistons are a much tougher team defensively than the Nets.
"We still got a chance," Sessions said. "We just got to go out there and take care of business against Detroit and put the pressure on them.”