John Wall dribbled during Tuesday's practice. With his left hand. That's encouraging news for the Washington Wizards. What that means for the All-Star guard's status heading into Game 5 at Atlanta remains murky.
Wall missed the last three games against the Hawks, who evened the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-2 with a a 106-101 win Monday night. He suffered five non-displaced fractures in his left wrist and hand in Game 1 on May 3. Since then Wall has not been able to dribble with that injured hand due to swelling. That changed Tuesday.
"He's moving in the right direction," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Wall. "The swelling is down again. Minimal swelling. He wanted to dribble the ball a little bit. Get the feel of it here. That's kind of what he did today."
By dribble Wittman means just that. No scrimmages or full practice participation; the Wizards watched film together and primarily held a walkthrough. Sporting a light bandage on his left hand, Wall was shooting free throws with his right hand with reporters present during the final minutes of practice.
"It's very light down there today. It's not like he's down there full go sprinting," the coach stated.
Typically practice doors remain open once the media arrives even as reporters move from the court area to the hallway where interviews are conducted. On Tuesday, the Wizards closed the doors with Wall still on the court and reporters waiting in the hall for Wittman. Wall later emerged as guard Ramon Sessions met with the media.
Wittman said Wall will have the injury reexamined by a team doctor either Tuesday or Wednesday. The Wizards are flying to Atlanta Tuesday afternoon and the doctors are going with them.
Until he hears otherwise, Wittman could not offer a firm status heading into the next game. Wall remains technically listed as "questionable" by the team.
"When (the doctors) check him again I'm sure they're going to either say 'No, he needs more time' or 'It's up to you from a pain standpoint.' But I don't know what answer right now."
Game 6 will take place Friday night at Verizon Center. If necessary, Game 7 goes Monday in Atlanta, meaning an extra day between contests compared to the current every other day scenario.
"It's good," guard Garrett Temple said of Wall's improvement. "Obviously, until he is ready to play we really don't know, but we've seen him out there dribbling a little bit, handling the ball, taking jump shots. That's always a good sign. That actually gives us more motivation to go (down) there and get a win ...If he's not able to play, just keep fighting, try to get another win and prolong that process for him."