home 2014-15, Blogs, Game Coverage The Storyline of a Pivotal Wizards-Hawks Game 5: JOHN WALL IS IN!

The Storyline of a Pivotal Wizards-Hawks Game 5: JOHN WALL IS IN!


This was the news a few hours ago:


Deciding to succumb to your emotions and play in a pivotal Game 5 versus deciding to continue resting your multiple-fractured wrist and hand to avoid long-term damage has got to be a top 5 thing to lose sleep over if you’re a professional athlete. Like his status for much of Monday before Game 4, John Wall remained hopeful, yet cautious on his decision for Game 5 tonight in The Dirty. However, with the stakes elevating, and the Hawks gradually morphing back into the pass-heavy/shoot-heavier offense that propelled them to 60 wins during the regular season, and Wall’s hand de-swelling substantially, Wall has finally decided to bite. He’s starting Game 5.

Several questions and/or concerns – mostly concerns – about Wall’s heroic situation naturally arise, of course.

How much pain is John in exactly and how detrimental will it be to his performance?

Will the cautiousness of using and finishing with his left hand deter him from being aggressive enough and could it stagnate the pace of the game for Washington?

Will the fear of drawing hard contact and possibly re-injuring his hand impact his confidence and cause him to be tentative at certain times?

While these are all serious in-game concerns, will there be any long-term effects of Wall playing tonight? And that’ll be a whole ‘nuhva issue to tackle. Getting through a Game 5 on the road with a win is the primary focus for the Wizards, but so preserving the face of their franchise is also one. Let’s hope they all, John included, kept that in mind when they made their decision tonight.

Bradley Beal, who earlier presented himself as one of Wall’s #HouseOfGuards senior spokesmen, called it all along..


Some other pre-game storylines:

Can the Wizards overcome the ‘best’ of ATL?


The Hawks finally let loose on Monday, dousing the Verizon Center with bird droppings to the tune of 30 assists on 41 made buckets, and an inevitable breakout performance from Jeff Teague. Teague’s 26 point-8 assist performance was complemented by equally huge games from Al Horford and Paul Millsap, while Kyle Korver continued to lay in the shade with only four shot attempts. DeMarr Carroll lingered around nearby with only five points.

Check Korver’s 3-point numbers in Games 1 and 2 versus his numbers in Games 3 and 4:

Game 1 and 2: 7-22 from 3, 25 points.
Game 3 and 4: 4-8 from 3, 6 points.

A similar drop-off is noticed in Carroll’s numbers as well:

Game 1 and 2: 6-13 from 3, 46 points.
Game 3 and 4: 1-4 from 3, 19 points.

Many have labeled Atlanta’s performance in Game 4 as the best we’ve seen from them so far in this series, maybe even these playoffs. But I’m prone to believe we’ve yet to see them at their absolute best, which is usually defined by the sound symmetry of a perimeter-happy quintet where each of them share a double-figure stat line and a ton of 3-point attempts. A momentum-rewarding Game 5 at home seems like the perfect setting for such a spectacle for the Hawks.

The Otto and Paul Show, A Feature Presentation?


The absence of John Wall has kinda/sorta been made up for with several other gratifying observations, such as Ramon Sessions and Will Bynum not turning the offense into a complete shit show; Nene finally deciding to partake in the job tasks he’s paid to perform; and you always love a 30+ point night from Bradley Beal. But in my opinion, the two true X-factors for the Wizards are the ironical impacts of Paul Pierce and Otto Porter, two players living on opposite ends of an NBA spectrum. Pierce, aged 37 and on the cusp of ending a 17-year career defined as legendary, has been the gritty catalyst for the Wizards this postseason, doing just about every legendary thing we anticipated him to do while truly living up his trademarked retort after every great performance: “that’s why brought me here.” Pierce has played through this series with intangible valor, bailing the Wizards out time and again with his unguardable shooting, including that one time he “called game”. Paul Pierce, with his sophistication and past experience in critical Game 5 situations that were no different from the one the Wizards face tonight, could very well live up to be the loophole that the Wizards will need to pass through for a series-swinging victory in Atlanta tonight. He’s got all the credentials that’ll put him in position to make that happen.

As for Otto Porter, well, he’s certainly excelled this postseason playing in a lineup alongside Pierce, thanks in great part to Wittman’s implementation of a smaller one. However, Otto’s gradual emergence from squire to knight took a bit of a setback in Game 4, where he scored just four points on 1-4 shooting, all from downtown. Prior to Game 4, Otto was shooting 50% from the field in the first three games and averaging 14 points and nine rebounds. With more space on the floor via less big men, Porter has been having a field day using his athleticism, enjoying slashes to the rim, sharp backdoor cuts, and when he feels like it, he’ll also settle back for a 3.

The production of Otto and Pierce alike has been a real prize for the Wizards, considering neither were gravely trusted nor relied upon to produce as such. But with the creator of offensive creations not in position to create, the creativity must derive from elsewhere, and Otto and Pierce have certainly created enough.

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