The Wizards knew they would one day fall back down to Earth after winning five straight games, that it wouldn't always be easy without John Wall. A reality check of sorts was served on Tuesday night as they lost a game to the Sixers in which they never led and had to rely on Bradley Beal at point guard down the stretch in the fourth quarter out of simple necessity.
It was a dose of what the Wizards will no doubt have to endure at times during what will be an extended absence without Wall. This loss just happened to come on a day that Wall gave multiple interviews, including one with NBC Sports Washington, about how the team was playing without him and how speculation had run rampant that they were better off with him out of the picture.
Of course that is and will never be true and after losing to the Sixers both Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal added clarity to what had become a murky locker room picture.
Gortat was asked about Wall's comments regarding a tweet Gortat sent last week about a team win. Wall noted how he thought it might have been a slight, that the "team" was doing better now that Wall wasn't playing.
Gortat says the two have cleared the air.
"I talked to him about that a few days ago. I thought we verified that," Gortat said. "I told him it was nothing personal. I definitely didn’t think about him when I was writing that. I never thought about attacking him."
Beal was referenced by Wall for his now famous "everybody eats" line that he muttered not once but twice. Wall also wondered if that was a jab at him. Beal says it was not and again reiterated that it's absurd to think he would suggest they are an improved team with Wall not in the lineup.
"I mean, not for a minute did we say we didn’t miss him. We’re not gonna be naive to that," Beal said. "He’s a great two-way player. We’re definitely not a better team without him."
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Beal was then asked why the Wizards had won five straight games, a season-high streak, immediately once Wall got injured.
"I don’t really know. We just started winning. I wish I could just pinpoint one thing," he said.
Beal then made a very important point that should be considered in all of this, that the Wizards' schedule is about to get harder and harder. Tuesday night was a good indication that it won't always be easy without their All-NBA point guard in the mix and that was against the Sixers. Up next is the Celtics and soon after that they play the Cavaliers, Bucks and Warriors.
There are going to be ups and downs without Wall and they may be extreme. As Beal will tell you, of course they aren't better without Wall. But they proved through five games they can still win while he's working his way back. That's what the conversation should ultimately be about, not a debate about his worth which should be obvious to everyone. Tuesday night was another reminder for those who needed it.