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John Wall holds out hope for return from wrist and hand injury


John Wall holds out hope for return from wrist and hand injury

While the end appears near for John Wall this postseason, he's not giving up hope that he could actually play again in this series with the Atlanta Hawks that is tied 1-1 with Game 3 Saturday at Verizon Center. Or at some point in the playoffs if the Wizards can advance to the Eastern Conference finals. 

Friday, he avoided giving any specifics on a timetable for his return from a left hand and wrist that has five non-displaced fractures.

"It's moving better but there's still pain there," said Wall, who led the Wizards to a 104-98 win in Game 1 with 18 points and 13 assists. "I haven't tried dribbling again so I'll probably try it tomorrow. Just the same pain has been there even if the swelling goes down a little bit.

"I have no idea (if I can play again). Depends on my swelling and how all the pain goes away. I finished Game 1 with it not knowing I had anything wrong and then I came back and got evaluations so I have no idea."

The Wizards are going forward with Ramon Sessions as the starter with Will Bynum and Garrett Temple as the backups. Bynum has yet to log any significant minutes in the postseason, only playing in garbage time of a Game 4 sweep of the Toronto Raptors. Temple, who had been out with a right hamstring strain, played for the first time Tuesday in a 106-90 loss to the Hawks since he went down March 9. 

"We've practiced for two days without him. We know what we have to do with him or without him," coach Randy Wittman said of losing Wall. "I don't want anybody to try to be John Wall. Ramon has to be Ramon. Will has to be Will. They're not going to be John. We're not going to have that.

"Don't come out and try to be John because you're not going to be very good. ... That's kind of the message."

Ninety minutes before tipoff of Game 2, Wittman said Wall would be available. About a half-hour later, Wall was a scratch because he couldn't control the ball with his left (non-shooting) hand. Wall drives and finishes a lot to his left even though he shoots right.

"We were anticipating that John is going to get it taped up, go on the floor and try to play," Wittman said while recounting that sequence of events. "I knew that it was painful or the kid would've played."

Sessions and Bynum were late-season acquisitions to give the Wizards more pace to the second unit and to compensate, in the event of an injury to Wall, for his absence. Sessions has been a spot starter throughout his career and scored 21 points in Game 2 vs. the Hawks. Bynum is more of a question mark after having spent his season in China, coming off a hamstring strain of his own in late March and playing limited time.

"How we have to play doesn't change because John's not here. Doesn't change," Wittman said. "I thought they did a good job of that (in Game 2). We turned it over at the end and the game got out of hand. But with four-and-a-half minutes, it's anybody's game. When you're on the road against a good team like that, put yourself in a position to win. These guys have proven when they do that they have a great chance of winning games."

So ultimately who makes the call if Wall plays again or not? Wall avoided being too specific. The only good thing about this is the bone has not become dislodged from its original position. A non-displaced fracture heals quicker than a displaced fracture and doesn't require surgery. They typically take 4-6 weeks to heal.

"I can't just jump the gun," Wall said. "I've got to be patient. If the pain goes away, then I can try. I already played through it not knowing what was wrong with my hand. My adrenaline was going. I was excited. Once the game was over the pain came and it swelled up. 

"I can't do anything if I can't dribble. You got to be able to dribble. If not, it's basically just taping my hand behind my back and saying play with one hand. It's not happening in this league."

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is all-in on his brother Marcus and the Boston Celtics beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only is he showing up to games in his twin brother's jersey, he is helping Marcus break down film on LeBron James.

James was held to just 15 points on 31.3 percent shooting with seven turnovers in Game 1 and Marcus got some credit for stopping him. In the two games since, James went off for 42 and 27 points, each time posting 12 assists to complement. Though Cleveland lost Game 2 as well, they punched back with a 30-point win in Game 3.

The Morrises are combining forces to make sure that doesn't happen again, according to Jay King of The Athletic. They stayed up until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning reviewing plays. 

Game 4 between the Cavs and Celtics is on Monday night. If Boston wins, they will take a 3-1 lead in the series, which will be very difficult for the Cavs to overcome. Yes, they mounted the most famous 3-1 comeback in NBA history, but this isn't the same Cavs team that accomplished the feat in 2016.

There is of course some irony in Markieff helping the Celtics, given he was so integral in the rivalry between the Wizards and Boston. But, as he has shown many times over the years, it's family over everything.

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Markieff Morris' season...

Player: Markieff Morris

Position: Power forward

Age: 28

2017-18 salary: $8 million

2017-18 stats: 73 G, 27.0 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 53.6 eFG%, 116 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 12/1 vs. Pistons - 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, zero turnovers, 10-for-16 FG, 2-for-3 3PT

Season review: It took quite a while for Markieff Morris to get healthy in the 2017-18 season. He was sidelined to begin last offseason with the ankle injury he suffered against the Celtics in the playoffs, then in September had surgery on both his abdomen and groin. The sports hernia surgery was known, while the groin procedure was revealed once the season was over.

Morris only missed nine games in the entire season, but took time to find his rhythm early. He averaged just 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14 games in the month of November. He picked it up after that, though he never quite reached the level we saw from him in 2016-17 in terms of volume production.

Morris played less minutes, took less shots, scored fewer points and grabbed less rebounds than the season before. On the other hand, he was more efficient than ever. Morris shot 48 percent from the field, his best since 2013-14, and posted career-highs in three-point percentage (36.7) and effective field-goal percentage (53.6). 

The Wizards could use more scoring from Morris moving forward, especially at times when one of their primary options is injured, as was the case in 2017-18 when John Wall missed 41 games. An active and engaged Morris changes everything for the Wizards. 

When Morris scored 15 points or more this season, the Wizards went 15-8. The season before, they went 22-9 when he got to the 15-point mark. 

It's a bit difficult to project Morris' role for the 2018-19 season at this point, given the fact he's entering a contract year and the most logical area for the Wizards to make significant changes (if they choose to) is in their frontcourt. Also, as Morris discussed in his exit interview, he knows more time at center in small-ball sets could be in his future.

Regardless of what happens with the team, it's a huge summer for Morris individually. If he sets himself up well for a big year in 2018-19, he could earn a nice payday in what might be his last long-term contract given his age.

Potential to improve: Rebounding, screens, scoring

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Marcin Gortat, C

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