John Wall and Nene are both questionable for Sunday’s game against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
Wall was kept out of Saturday’s practice after experiencing back spasms in the second half of the Wizards’ 109-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Nene missed the game with a strained left calf and sore Achilles’ tendon and was limited mostly to running on the treadmill.
Coach Randy Wittman couldn’t commit to having one or both for the game. “It’s hard to say. I thought we might have Nene [against Philadelphia] and we ended up not. I’m done predicting. So, game time” decision, Wittman said.
With less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Wall attempted to slide in front of 76ers rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams to take a charge but was called for a personal foul.
Wittman replaced Wall with Eric Maynor and Wall sat on the bench without any noticeable discomfort. But as the fourth quarter got underway, Wall was having his back stretched out by a team trainer. Afterward, Wall received treatment for nearly 30 minutes and grimaced and groaned through his post-game interview.
“Pain,” Wall explained, while leaning back. “I got back spasms right now.”
After watching Wall make a driving layup in the final minutes and finish out the game, Wittman said he was surprised to hear about the ailment. “I didn’t know anything about his back until after the game.”
Without Wall, the Wizards will have to rely on Eric Maynor and Garrett Temple at point guard.
Marcin Gortat, who started Friday’s loss, will likely get the nod if Nene has to sit again. Gortat had 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots against the 76ers but is still adjusting to his new environment after having his first practice on Monday.
“It’s getting better. I’m still not perfect. I’m learning to play with these guys,” Gortat said. “Obviously, defensively, I was a little bit better than the first game, I still need more rebounds. I believe that is my responsibility to do. This is my responsibility. I got to make sure I take care of rebounds and make sure that we win the glass.”
Trevor Ariza previously played with Gortat “for a hot second” in Orlando and said the adjustment period is to be expected. “That’s a part of the game, especially when you make trades. Players come in they have to have time to understand what’s going on. That is the process right now. Hopefully we’ll figure it out sooner than later. He’s a smart player, smart guy. Been around for a long time and he plays hard. I don’t think he’ll have any problem catching on to what we’re doing over the next week or two or whatever.”
Regardless of which players he has available, Wittman wants his team focused on fixing the defensive issues and finally getting into the win column, even if they are taking on a Heat team that lost both games on a trip through Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
“We got to get back to what we’re doing,” Wittman said. “Last night, somebody said, ‘Miami is going to be upset coming off two losses.’ We should be upset! We’re coming off two losses. I want our guys to feel that way: ‘We’ve lost two games here, we got to take it out on somebody.’ I don’t worry about Miami. They’re a good team. We all know that. We’ve got to play a high standard game tomorrow. But I want us to be upset.”