The Washington Wizards proved they can topple the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks without John Wall on Saturday night, and they’re likely going to have to do it again in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Monday.
The all-star point guard still hadn’t tried dribbling a basketball as of Sunday afternoon because the swelling in his left hand, one week after suffering five non-displaced fractures in the Wizards’ Game 1 win, had not yet subsided, according to Coach Randy Wittman.
“It’s headed in the right direction,” Wittman said. “Again, we’re not to the point of him doing anything on the floor yet of that nature. But it’s heading to a situation where hopefully he can get a ball in his hand and see how that feels and you just take those steps like that.”
Wall suffered the injury when he landed on his wrist near the end of the second quarter last Sunday. He was a late scratch for Tuesday’s Game 2, which the Wizards lost, because he couldn’t handle a basketball effectively. Further examinations in Washington on Wednesday revealed the fractures. The Wizards then blitzed the Hawks Saturday, building a 21-point fourth-quarter lead before squandering it and requiring a buzzer-beater from Paul Pierce.
The victory buys Wall more time to return this postseason. The bones usually require four to six weeks to heal, but the Wizards haven’t ruled Wall out from returning against the Hawks. Given the unpredictability of the schedule, the Wizards could eliminate the Hawks in five games by May 13 or the series can go to a Game 6 on May 15 and a Game 7 on May 18. That would give Wall 15 days after the injury occurred to return. For now, Wall’s focus is on being an enthusiastic cheerleader on the sideline and receiving around-the-clock treatment to diminish the swelling.
“That’s the number one thing,” Wittman said of the swelling. “Before we move anywhere else, before he does anything down there with a ball, he’s got to get that out of there. There’s no sense in trying to do anything with the ball while it’s swollen.”
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