CHICAGO – With John Wall playing a willing set-up man, the Wizards are one win away from claiming their first playoff series in nine years. The Chicago Bulls have made stopping Wall the priority through the first four games, but the all-star point guard has not forced the issue and focused on getting the ball to the open man.
“Just run my team. I know what shots they’re going to give me. Kind of dictate and tell if I’m making shots or not, or if I need to be aggressive,” Wall said. “This series, I’m kind of being a decoy. I’m getting the looks I’ve been getting all season, but I haven’t been making them this series. In the fourth quarter is when I get more aggressive, but just getting guys shots and if they’re going to take me away then you’ve got to trust in your teammates like they trust in you to make the right play.”
Wall had a series high 10 assists in the Wizards’ 98-89 victory in Game 4, which put the Wizards ahead three games to one. He is averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 assists in the series but he hasn’t taken more than 15 shots in any game.
“That kid learns very fast,” Martell Websters said of Wall. “He’s a student of this game, he understands the change in matchups and he understands the way the defense is playing and he doesn’t try to force the issue. He may have done that early in the season, but he’s gotten better every game in this series and he understands that there’s a time when we’re going to need him to take those 25 shots to win a game. he’s going to get in a zone and we’re going to need to ride that zone. Plain and simple. If he comes out the gates and he 6 of 7, I hope he keeps shooting. We have that confidence in him. The same goes for Brad [Beal]. Those two are the captains of this team and we’re riding on their back.”
The fifth-seeded Wizards are one win from defeating the fourth-seeded Bulls and Wall remains adamant that his team has much more to prove. “I still feel like we’re the underdog. We just got to win one more game,” Wall said. “Coming in nobody predicted us to do anything and we still haven’t accomplished anything but win three games. it’s the first to four. And we know any team can get hot. We know how big this game is for us and what we’re trying to accomplish and finish out this series. We still got to win the first to four.”
Webster has never won a playoff series and said the Wizards have taken the right attitude entering a potential series clincher. “Win by any means, that’s the mentality,” Webster said. “We know these guys are going to come out clawing tonight, but we have the same mentality. The most important thing is, we have to keep our composure, stay poised and really enjoy the moment. Take it for what it’s worth. One of these things that you can’t even teach the guys that haven’t been to the playoffs is the regret part, because you have to go through that. And hopefully, they never have to. Being in the playoffs series and the energy and everything that comes with it and then lose and then regret not doing everything I can do to make my team better and for me, it’s just, I’m leaving everything on the court.”
(TV: TNT, Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WNEW-99.1 FM, WFED-1500 AM)
Here’s some reading to get you ready for the game: