With another 50-loss season approaching its cruel end, the Wizards are reaching the point of concern over how many players they will have remaining for the finale. Already down Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza before they took on the Miami Heat, the Wizards lost Martell Webster to an abdominal strain in the third quarter — and his availability for the final three games is in doubt.
“Of course I want to play the last three games. Will it happen? I don’t know,” Webster said after scoring 12 points in the Wizards’ 103-98 loss to Miami. “I want to exhaust every avenue until that point.”
Webster has been playing with soreness in his midsection for more than a month, explaining that he first began to experience discomfort on March 1, when the Wizards lost to New York. Using “mind over matter” — as he likes to say – Webster played through the pain, and even scored a career-high 34 points in a win over Phoenix, until he was later forced to leave in the third quarter of a loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Webster then sat the next two games and acknowledged recently that his back problems from the past two seasons may have contributed to his current ailment.
“It’s uncomfortable to do pretty much everything — running, jumping — but it’s part of the game,” Webster explained a few weeks ago.
Webster returned to play seven more games but was unable to make it to the fourth quarter against the Heat. He wasn’t moving will the same zest and was grimacing in pain as he patted his midsection before eventually walking off with head athletic trainer Eric Waters.
“It’s one of those times where I’ve kind of got to shut it down,” Webster said. “I’m the type of person, in all means of life, that’s going to exhaust every avenue before I decide to make a final decision. Where my mind is, where my focus is, we’ll see how it feels [on Friday] and continue to do the rehab regimen that I’ve been doing. But I’m going to exhaust every avenue.”
Beal is done for the season with a stress injury in his right fibula and Ariza is dealing with a sore left knee that has sidelined him the past two games, but Webster isn’t ready to give up on his best season as a pro. Webster is averaging a career-highs in scoring (11.4), assists (1.9) and three-point field goal percentage (42.2). He is also tied his career-high with 3.9 rebounds.
But in his past 10 games, Webster was laboring noticeably and shot just 34.7 percent from the floor (34 of 98) and 21.4 percent from three-point range (9 of 42). Webster still averaged 10.6 points but mostly because of his ability to get to the foul line. He scored 12 points on just 2 of 7 shooting against Miami.
“It’s more a mental game for me, because I fight through everything,” Webster said. “If I can get my mind into then I can get my body to respond. But I know what I want to do in my mind and I see myself not responding, so those two weren’t on the same page. It takes a lot mentally, but once I’m in it, it kind of takes over for itself.”