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.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS: