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John Wall could still be available vs. 76ers; only expecting a hefty fine for Crowder incident

John Wall could still be available vs. 76ers; only expecting a hefty fine for Crowder incident

The first hurdle is almost cleared for John Wall, who had further testing on his sore left wrist and right pinkie finger and still could be available to play against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

Wall didn't practice Friday but did get up shots, including free throws. He broke the same left wrist and hand two years ago in a playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks with five non-displaced fractures. 

Although there's swelling, it's near that level.

"It's just sore. It was a little swollen but sore. Nothing close to what (happened) in the Atlanta series," Wall said.

The pinkie is the bigger issue which impacted him shooting 4-for-21 in a loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. In particular, it stuck to the basketball on his shots. The onset of the injury was in a win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

"It affected me big-time. Every time I was trying to shoot it was like the last pinkie was getting caught," said Wall, who is right-handed but finishes often at the rim with his left. "I'm trying to find a way to stabilize it so it can stay closer into my other finger so it's (not) the last finger being caught.

"That's the main problem, just my pinkie. If I can get that to just stay stable and it don't affect myself as much as it did the other  night. It was frustrating knowing what I was going through, trying to play a good game and help our team win. Shots weren't falling." 

The answer could be putting a splint between his ring and pinkie fingers.Wall had an X-ray on both injuries Wednesday after the game. He then received an MRI on the pinkie on Thursday.

"That's what I'm trying to figure out, what splint works the best," Wall said.

The toughness quality that Wall has is as admired by Wizards coach Scott Brooks as it was by then-coach Randy Wittman. Wall returned to play the final three games of that East semifinal series with Atlanta with the broken hand and wrist and still averaged a double-double.

"My guess is he's just going to have to play with some type of tape around it or splint," Brooks said. "One thing I know about John being around him for the six or seven months now, he's as tough as they come. He's going to put himself out there. ... Everything came back clean. Nothing is broke. No tears. It's going to be sore for a while. Hopefully we can manage the pain and go from there."

Wall, however, has yet to hear from the league office which still could suspend or fine him for his altercation with Boston's Jae Crowder following the Wednesday night loss. 

"I just had a conversation with them yesterday after I went to the doctor," he said. "That's it. I'm just waiting to see what the results are."

His expectations of the outcome?

"A fat fine," he said. "A guy violates your space, you got to do what you got to do. I already know a fine should be coming  so I'm willing to accept it."

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The Vault: Looking back at Bullets-Sixers Game 5 of the 1986 NBA Playoffs

The Vault: Looking back at Bullets-Sixers Game 5 of the 1986 NBA Playoffs

After a two-week break for paternity leave, it's time to spin the dial, line up the combination numbers and re-open the vault. Earlier in the NBA's hiatus, we looked back at Bullets playoff games from the 1970s and the 1990s. Today, we go to the 1980s and revisit Game 5 of the 1986 first-round playoff series between the Washington Bullets and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now, this is a game that older Bullets fans likely wouldn't want to relive. The Bullets not only lost the game, they got blown out, and it ended their season.

But it was also an interesting snapshot into an era of the NBA and of Bullets basketball and, in a way, it encapsulated what the Bullets were in the 1980s. They made the playoffs five straight years from 1983 to 1988 and lost in the first round each time. 

In 1986, the Bullets won only 39 games, yet they were the sixth seed. It was an especially bad year in the Eastern Conference, so bad that the Chicago Bulls set an NBA record that still stands as the worst team to ever make the playoffs. They were 30-52.

The Bullets won Game 1 against the Sixers, but fell on the road in Game 5 when basically all of their best players didn't show up. It was a major letdown.

But it was still a basketball time capsule worth looking back on. Here are five takeaways including pictures and GIFs of the best moments...

Bol's network debut

The NBA back then was not even close to what it is now in terms of worldwide reach. It was not far removed from the NBA Finals playing on tape delay and very few games were broadcast nationally. Usually, those national games featured teams like the Lakers and Celtics, not the Washington Bullets.

So this particular game marked the first time Manute Bol played on network television. The Bullets rookie was a person of intrigue because at 7-foot-6, he was the tallest player in NBA history at the time. Remember, this was before Gheorghe Muresan, Shawn Bradley and Yao Ming. 

Bol was also a fascinating player because as a rookie he led the league in blocked shots with a ridiculous average of 5.0 per game. He averaged more blocks than he did points (3.7). 

Bol playing in his network debut was a big part of the broadcast with color commentator Tommy Heinsohn remarking pregame that "when [Bol] first joined the NBA, a lot of people thought it was for freak value." Heinsohn, though, went on to twice compare Bol's rim-protecting prowess to Bill Russell.

Heinsohn also said later in the game the Bullets training staff put the roster through a strength exam and Bol tested at the level of "a child." He was tall, but extremely skinny, listed at just 200 pounds. And his thin frame was a major disadvantage against Sixers superstar Charles Barkley.

Despite being a foot shorter, Barkley absolutely dominated Bol in this game with his strength and low center of gravity.

Bol had zero points, two rebounds and one block in the game.

Bol had a song

To further illustrate the spectacle that Bol's network debut was, CBS aired a music video for him at halftime. It was called 'Bol-tending' and it was the type of video that was for some reason commonplace around sports in the 1980s and 90s.

Custom rap songs about teams and players were all the rage back then and even as a rookie, Bol had one complete with a killer saxophone solo.

The 80s were in full force

The Bol video was just one example of the remarkable 80s-ness of this game and the broadcast. There were so many things that may have been cool at the time that just aren't that cool anymore.

Like, this starting lineup graphic. It looks like a Prince album cover.

There were also a few hairstyles you just never see in today's NBA. There was the let-it-flow male pattern baldness of Gus Williams:

There was also Jeff Ruland's full and glorious mustache, which made him look like a cop who went undercover as an NBA player:

And you had Tom McMillen's moppy gray hair that made him look like a middle school science teacher:

It seems worth noting that Just For Men didn't come out until 1987, the year after this game was played. And this was actually McMillen's final NBA game. He had already announced his retirement and made it known he was going to run for U.S. Congress as soon as his playing career was over. They mentioned it twice on the broadcast.

Imagine a current NBA player's farewell tour including that as his next step. McMillen, who was a Rhodes Scholar before playing in the NBA, would win that election and two more to serve three terms in the House of Representatives hailing from Maryland's 4th District.

Sixers were loaded with stars

The Sixers had one of the most star-studded NBA teams ever assembled in 1985-86, though some of those stars were up there in age and not the players they once were. They had a whopping five Hall of Famers. That included Barkley, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Bob McAdoo and Maurice Cheeks. 

Malone and McAdoo didn't play in this game due to injuries, Malone because of a fractured eye socket (ouch). But the other three had their way with the Bullets in Game 5.

Barkely, in particular, was unstoppable. He had a triple-double with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists. And he just jumped off the screen as the best player on the floor.

This was a different era where a lot of the players weren't athletic or skilled enough to hang in today's game. But it is pretty obvious Barkley would still be a star. He was just unbelievably powerful and fast in the open floor.

Dr. J still had it

Erving may have been 35 years old, but he was still one of the best athletes on the court. He made a series of plays that were reminiscent of the ageless wonder we see these days in LeBron James.

Erving had a few vicious dunks that did not look like a guy at the end of his career:

And this one play where he leapt over the press section really stood out:

The NBA has come a long way since the 80s, but Barkley and Dr. J were both before their time. And the Bullets may now be the Wizards, but they are still waiting to break through in the playoffs, even decades later.

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Adam Silver: NBA not likely to make any decisions before May

Adam Silver: NBA not likely to make any decisions before May

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is bracing for several more weeks of uncertainty about the remainder of this halted season, revealing Monday night that he does not expect the league will be able to decide anything until at least May.

Silver spoke on the NBA's Twitter account as part of the league's new NBATogether initiative, in a conversation hosted by Turner Sports' Ernie Johnson. Silver touched on many topics, including how the league is looking at numerous scenarios for a return, but in every case the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic makes it impossible right now to move too far forward.

"Essentially, what I've told my folks over the last week is that we just should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won't be in a position to make any decisions," Silver said. "And I don't think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be."

The NBA was the first of the major U.S. pro leagues to shut down because of the COVID-19 threat, doing so after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to test positive for the virus. The league's regular season was to end April 15, and the playoffs were to begin April 18.

That isn't going to happen, and that has been known for some time. The NBA wants this season to resume, but simply cannot say with any certainty if it will or will not happen.

"We miss it badly," Silver said. "To all the families watching this, I know the NBA is a big part of their lives. We just want to assure everybody that while we're putting the health and safety of everyone first, we're looking at every possibility to get our players back on the floor and to play NBA basketball again."

Among the decisions that have yet to be made, Silver said: whether the regular season will resume in some form or if the NBA would go immediately into the playoffs - assuming the league can salvage this season at all.

Also on the drawing board: if games would be played in NBA arenas or practice facilities, how televising games would work and if the league would take everybody to one site to finish the season. Cities have expressed interest in that option and have reached out to the NBA to say as much, Silver said.

"We're in listening mode right now," he said.

The news likely wasn't unexpected, but it still hit All-Star center Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat hard when told that no decision on the fate of the season is expected anytime soon.

"It's a whole spectrum of the unknown," Adebayo told The Associated Press after Silver spoke. "But at the end of the day, it's about safety, it's about our families and it's bigger than us. It's a global thing and we've all got to take it even more seriously."

Silver also discussed Saturday's 45-minute conference call that he and other major U.S. sports leaders had with President Donald Trump. The president said he had been watching some replays of past major sports events, then asked the commissioners and others for their thoughts.

"It wasn't just a pep talk, but I think it was a reminder of what the meaning is of sports to Americans, to our culture in particular," Silver said. "What came back from all the leagues collectively was once we get the all-clear, however that's determined, of course with public health officials and by our government ... we're going to be ready to go. But first and foremost is the health and safety of everyone involved."

It has been, by far and for obvious reasons, the most personally trying season of Silver's tenure as commissioner. The NBA got into a major and costly rift with China in October after Houston general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong around the same time as the league was making its annual visit to that basketball-wild nation for two preseason games that became incredibly awkward. Commissioner Emeritus David Stern, Silver's predecessor and mentor, died Jan. 1. Kobe Bryant, who was announced as a Hall of Fame inductee on Saturday, died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna and seven others.

Silver spoke in mid-February about how he had concerns about the coronavirus threat. By mid-March, it had shut down his league and now, in many ways, much of the world is shuttered. As he said in an interview with AP late last month, Silver said he feels a responsibility for 55,000 people who generate at least some of their income by working in the NBA or at NBA games.

"That's what's keeping me up at night," Silver said.

There is also some very personal worry for Silver right now: His wife is expecting their second daughter, due to arrive in mid-May.

"There's a bit of additional anxiety in terms of going into a New York City hospital in the middle of all this," Silver said.

New York has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, and its healthcare system has been tested perhaps like never before by the demands of the pandemic.

"I think we're going to see a new approach to a lot of these problems," Silver said. "And maybe we were a little bit behind. This is a cruel wake-up call in many ways, given that we're talking about an enormous number of human lives, but we will come out of this better."

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