The Wizards entered Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Atlanta Hawks down a man. After John Wall suffered a wrist injury in a hard-fought Game 1 win, we all assumed based on the high stakes that he’d play. He dubbed himself and Brad Beal “soldiers”. The team and fans saw an opportunity to go up 2-0 for the second consecutive series and we got excited.
Then several of us saw a picture of Wall’s hand on social media following a Tuesday morning practice. And it looked bad. Seriously, it looked like a bored surgical resident blew air into a rubber glove and tucked the creation into the end of his sleeve.
Wall would eventually be ruled out of Game 2 with the logic that the Wizards had already snatched home court advantage and the rest before Game 3 would serve him well. Washington did a great job hanging with the Hawks – even tying the game late in the 3rd quarter – but they’d eventually drop their first contest of the entire 2015 playoffs.
1. The Next Man Up.
Ramon Sessions was the “next man up” with Wall out of the starting lineup. While some heaped criticism on the trade for Sessions, calling him a journeyman, his score-first mentality served the Wizards very well in Game 2.
Here, Sessions shows his outside shooting ability, knocking down 2 of his 3 three-pointers on the night.
2. Brad Beal: Soldier.
More worrisome than Wall’s injury in Game 1 was Bradley Beal’s, who rolled his ankle very hard and later hobbled to the locker room in tears. Beal would go on to lead all scorers in that game (28 points), but the injury left him unable to complete the game. Pretty terrifying.
If Sessions was the next man up, Beal was the man next to the man. He played a whopping 43 minutes and was the second leading scorer to Sessions with 20 points. Here, he watches his three-point attempt roll all over Peachtree before finally dropping in. The shot reduced Atlanta’s 2nd quarter lead to 7.
3. #TheTruth Still Got It.
With Wall sidelined for Game 2, we all expected the Wizards to rely heavily on Paul Pierce – not so much for scoring ability, but rather for overall leadership to carry an undermanned team. We’ve seen Paul hit more than his fair share of outside shots in this series, but it was refreshing to see him channel his younger self and showcase his dribbling and passing ability.
Here, Pierce takes Paul Millsap off the dribble, knifes into the lane, and finds a cutting Marcin Gortat for an easy layup. After carrying an 8 point deficit into the 2nd quarter, Washington closed the gap to 6 points here, and would eventually outscore Atlanta in the quarter.
4. I remember you, Garrett Temple.
Fun Fact: Garrett Temple is more than just defense. When the Wizards were short-handed to start the season, Temple showed a few flashes of his outside shooting ability. It was a reminder of his 15 ppg stat that he carried when first being called up to the NBA by the Houston Rockets in 2010.
We haven’t seen Garrett since late in the season when he injured his hamstring on March 9th. While this would be his lone basket of the night, it’s nice to have an extra back court body that can contribute minutes. (Shout out to Nene for the clear out, too.)
5. Bradley Beal’s Best John Wall Impersonation.
When I look at Brad Beal’s potential – the fact that he has the ability to add slashing to his game – I tend to forget that he’s only 21 years old. The fact that his outside shooting is so good means that he’ll be significant more dangerous once he adds better dribbling and the ability to draw contact in the lane.
Here, Beal catches Al Horford on a defensive switch, takes him off the dribble, and dumps a nice pass off to a cutting Otto Porter, who finishes with a dunk in the lane. This would be part of an overall good 2nd quarter from the Wizards.