Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal took a significant step forward Friday in his recovery from an injured left shoulder, returning to practice for the first time since sustaining the injury on Nov. 7 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Beal said he didn’t feel any pain in the shoulder and wants to play Saturday against the Detroit Pistons. He is officially listed as questionable and explained that his status will depend on how he rebounds from Friday’s session.
“I want to play. I had a good practice today,” Beal said. “I just have to see how I recoup tomorrow and go through shoot-around and see how I feel before the game and go from there.
Beal, Washington’s leading scorer, hasn’t played in nearly two weeks, but has missed just three games because of the Wizards’ inactive schedule. The team called the ailment a shoulder contusion but he contended that the injury also included muscle tightness in his neck and back. He said the discomfort lingered.
“I could be just sitting here and it’d be throbbing and hurting and I couldn’t move,” said Beal, who has never dealt with shoulder troubles before. “So it was a lot worse than people just saying it was a bruised shoulder. I think I’m tougher than that.”
Washington has gone 2-1 without Beal, including two straight victories with Garrett Temple replacing him in the starting lineup.
“We’ve done a better job defensively of establishing ourselves and playing the right way. I think offensively we’ve been doing a great job of getting out in the open floor and moving the ball and passing the ball. We just have to shoot it a little bit better. We’ve been shooting it well but we can still shoot it a little bit better but our defense has been better and that’s what we want.”
If Beal does return Saturday, the shoulder surely have his shoulder tested with Pistons center Andre Drummond protecting the basket.
“You might see me shoot a lot of floaters,” Beal said with a grin. “A lot of floaters and pull-ups.”