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Can Wizards make playoffs without John Wall? Why the team believes they can

Can Wizards make playoffs without John Wall? Why the team believes they can

In a way, the situation the Wizards find themselves in with John Wall's extended injury absence is familiar, in that just one season ago he missed 41 games.

This time, however, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. 

Wall is not due to return late in the year, which would offer the Wizards an opportunity to simply stay afloat. Whatever they accomplish this season, or fail to accomplish, will be done without him.

Wall is set to undergo surgery to relieve his left heel of bone spurs and to repair what the team called a chronic Achilles tendon injury. He will miss six-to-eight months, meaning the rest of this season and likely much of the summer as well.

The Wizards were already dealing with a host of injuries, including Dwight Howard's recovery from back surgery. What's left of them will have no choice but to move forward, hoping bad injury luck doesn't completely derail their chances to compete night in and night out.

After processing the news, the consensus in the Wizards' locker room is that Wall's surgery, though a tough blow, is not a death sentence. They believe they can still make a postseason push, despite sitting nine games under .500, even after Saturday's win over the Charlotte Hornets.

"We've gotta make up [some] games, but I'm trying to shoot for the playoffs for sure," guard Bradley Beal said.

"We're here to win games," head coach Scott Brooks said. "We're not here to make excuses. I never made them as a player, I don't make them as a coach and I'm not going to start right now."

Brooks opened his pregame press conference on Saturday night with a statement about Wall's injury that veered into a look ahead at how the Wizards can make do without him. Clearly, this means more of an onus on Beal to lead the way, but plenty of pressure will be put on others, including Tomas Satoransky, Wall's replacement at point guard.

Satoransky played well in his first test without Wall against the Hornets. He poured in 20 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds.

Satoransky helped the Wizards stay level at 20-21 in the 41 games Wall missed last season. Though that pace won't cut it this time around, he believes the team can draw from that experience to turn their season around while Wall recovers.

"It's not a new situation for us. Obviously, in the long-run it's a tough loss. You always want another All-Star on your team. It's going to be a tough adjustment, but we have been in that situation," Satoransky said. "We have to keep believing in each other. Like I said last year when it happened, everybody has got to step up."

"He's ready for it," Brooks said of Satoransky. "He got 41 games last season... This gives him a great opportunity to grow because you always want to get better."

Brooks went on to discuss in specifics how Beal will have to step up. The 25-year-old guard has followed up his first All-Star campaign with another strong year. He's averaging 23.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

Beal will have to lead the Wizards' offense as their top scorer and do so while dealing with the best defenders on each team every night. Teams will design their gameplans to stop him, and he will have to counter.

Beal had success under those circumstances last season. Brooks believes it all comes down to patience, both with his own situation and those around him.

"It's not all going to be on Brad's shoulders. He's going to have to continue to lead and sometimes be very patient. That's part of being a leader," Brooks explained. 

"You've got a young center [in Thomas Bryant], you've got young players and you have to instill confidence in them. Brad was a young player at one time, we all were. You need veterans to help you through a season."

There was a human element to the Wizards reacting to Wall's injury. They know him as much more than a basketball player. Both Beal and Satoransky acknowledged they knew Wall's injury had significantly affected his play this season.

Beal mentioned how it is always a fine line between playing and sitting out with an injury. Guys want to fight through pain to help their team and sometimes it is to a detriment.

Wall's teammates understand how important the big picture is in all of this. Wall is 28 years old and set to enter a supermax contract worth $170 million that kicks in next season. For himself and the team, it's important he gets his health in order.

"We talked about it before he went to see the specialist," forward Markieff Morris said. "He has to do what's right for his body. He still has a long career in front of him. If it bothers him, then that's the best decision he can do is have surgery. I think that's what he should do."

"He's at a crossroads right now. All we can do is be positive with him," Beal said.


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Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Thursday’s 119-113 victory over the 76ers was by far the best victory the Wizards have had this season.

Davis Bertans was hot shooting 7-for-10 from three. He even set a career high of 25 points in 27 minutes.  

Miami, on the hand struggled Wednesday night and fell short to Boston 112-93. 

Who will get the victory Friday ngiht? Tune in to find out. 


What: Washington Wizards at Heat, Game 21

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

When: Friday, December 6, at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards at Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM


7:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

7:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Heat (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

11:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)


Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), C.J. Miles (OUT, Wrist), Thomas Bryant (OUT, foot), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, Calf)

Heat: Justise Winslow (OUT, Back), Goran Dragic (OUT, Groin), KZ Okpala (OUT, Achilles), Udonis Haslem (OUT, Illness)


Davis Bertans, PF, (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 app, ): Bertans went off in the first half against the 76ers shooting 6-for-6 from deep to get 22 points going into halftime. Bertans finished Thursday nights game with a season high of 25 points, one rebound, one steal and seven 3 pointers within 37 minutes.

Ish Smith, G, Wizards (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg): With IT out Ish Smith stepped up to the plate dishing out a season high of eight assists with 19 points and one rebound in 34 minutes in Thursday nights win over the 76ers. Smith is averaging

Jimmy Butler, G, Wizards (20.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 6.5 apg): Jimmy Butler was on fire in Miami’s 112-93 loss to Celtics on Wednesday. Butler made 12-of-18 from the field and set a season high of 37 points.


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Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.