Kurt Helin

John Wall

PBT Extra: Should John Wall play in Game 5?


Like so many decisions in life, it’s risk vs. reward.

The rewards for the Wizards if John Wall can play are obvious. If he can be anywhere near his usual self they can certainly beat these Hawks, then they could challenge Chicago or Cleveland.

But the risk —what happens when he gets raked across the hand driving to the basket? How much worse can his five non-displaced fractures get?

That’s what Julie Donaldson and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. If I’m the Wizards, I’m not sure I do it, but it really depends on what the doctors say. We know Wall wants to play.

PBT Extra: Monty Williams is out in New Orleans, who replaces him?

San Antonio Spurs v New Orleans Pelicans

Maybe it’s not fair to Monty Williams.

The Pelicans got better each year he was there. They made the playoffs this year. He had a built a strong relationship with Anthony Davis and helped develop him into one of the NBA’s top players.

Yet Williams was fired on Tuesday.

If Williams is out, look for the Pelicans to go defense first — a team with Davis and Omer Asik in the paint shouldn’t be 22nd in the league in defensive efficiency.

Tom Thibodeau is the first name that comes up if you ask around the league, but the Pelicans would have to wait and see how things play out in Chicago. Then they would need to open up the checkbook. But this is the best fit (and the buzz is Thibs would be open to it, he developed a relationship with Davis on Team USA last summer).

If not, expect guys like Mike Malone and Scott Brooks to be among those who get a look.


John Wall dribbles with injured left hand, to see doctor, status for Game 5 unclear

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards - Game Three


John Wall desperately wants back on the court for the Wizards, who are tied up 2-2 with the Atlanta Hawks heading into a Game 5 Wednesday night. The Wizards desperately need him back after the Hawks started to sort of look like the old Hawks again in Game 4.

But Wall still has five non-displaced fractures in his left hand. Five. Do you want to roll out your franchise cornerstone player with five fractures in his hand?

Wall dribbled with that injured left hand at practice Tuesday and will now talk to a doctor, reports friend of this blog Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com.

“He’s moving in the right direction,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Wall. “The swelling is down again. Minimal swelling. He wanted to dribble the ball a little bit. Get the feel of it here. That’s kind of what he did today.”

By dribble Wittman means just that. No scrimmages or full practice participation; the Wizards watched film together and primarily held a walkthrough. Sporting a light bandage on his left hand, Wall was shooting free throws with his right hand with reporters present during the final minutes of practice….

Wittman said Wall will have the injury reexamined by a team doctor either Tuesday or Wednesday.

It’s got to be tempting for Washington to try and bring him back. They are tied with a beatable Hawks team, a squad they very well may beat with Wall. Beyond that will be a banged-up Cavaliers team or a Bulls team struggling to best a banged-up Cleveland team. The Wizards can see the path.

But you can be sure the first time Wall steps on the court in a playoff game and goes after a loose ball or drives the lane, that left hand is going to get smacked. Hard. And the question isn’t just pain tolerance for Wall, it’s how much worse can the injury get? Could some hard contact lead to a displacement, one that requires surgery? Something where recovery bleeds into next season? If you’re Washington, you can’t mess with the long-term future of your best player.

There are a lot of hard questions to answer for the Wizards in the next couple days.


Despite injuries to both legs, Kyrie Irving says he will play in Game 5 Tuesday

Chicago Bulls V Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four

His right foot has bothered him since Game 2 of the Boston series.

Now he has left knee tendonitis, which seems to bother him more than his foot injury.

But Kyrie Irving is not going to sit down.

Irving is not driving as much, not finishing when he does, and has shot 5-of-23 in his last two game. He’s not the same guy, which has put a heavier load on LeBron James. But Irving told Dave McMenamin of ESPN he will play Tuesday in a crucial Game 5 against Chicago, with the series knotted up at 2-2.

“If the consideration is now, then, I mean, I should have been sitting out maybe about four games ago,” Irving said. “I just … I can’t do it. Mentally, I can’t do it. I can’t look myself in the mirror and sit on the bench or sit in the locker room while I watch my teammates go out there.

“I’d rather give 30 percent, 40 percent, rather than give none at all. I just literally can’t do it. I can’t sit on the bench and be hurt and be OK with that. And still, I still know I can be effective. So whether I got to the free throw line eight times [like he did in Game 3, going 8-for-8], which I’m still happy about … My jumper may not be falling or the legs under me, but I’m just going to continue to just go.”

Less Irving means more LeBron having to carry the load and do it himself — he used 42.8 percent of the Cavaliers possessions when he was on the floor and only three of his 10 made baskets came off an assist.  Those kinds of numbers play right into Tom Thibodeau’s defense; it’s designed to stop isolation sets. LeBron hasn’t been efficient this series, and he’s not going to be with the defense focused on him.

Irving needs to give the Cavaliers something. So does J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, and others. Chicago’s offense hasn’t been pretty most of the time, but it’s getting up enough points to make this a series (especially thanks to Derrick Rose of late). Cleveland needs to find points that do not just come via LeBron.

The question is can Irving provide that right now?

Watch Stephen Curry look like MVP, drop 33 on Grizzlies in win

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Golden State made a few key adjustments heading into Game 4. For one, they defended Tony Allen with a big and gave him wide open jump shots he can’t hit consistently. Second, they attacked Zach Randolph with the pick-and-roll every chance they got.

That second one — plus the fact his shot started to be in rhythm again — had Stephen Curry looking like the MVP. Curry dropped 33 on Memphis, but the impressive part was he didn’t score in the first 8:28 of the game, looking instead to set others up and let the offense find its pace and what worked without him. Then things opened up for him; he hit a 16-foot pull-up jumper, and the floodgates opened.

Other Warriors had big nights as well — Draymond Green had 16 points, 10 rebounds — but the big key was simply getting open looks and hitting them. For Curry, 12 of his 22 shots were uncontested, and he hit eight of those dozen good looks.