For 16 games, the Washington Wizards have tread water without two guard Bradley Beal, who is out with a stress reaction in his right fibula. The Wizards are 14th in the NBA in offense and 17th in defense in those 16 games, showing some promise by doing things like beating the Bulls on Monday, but struggling to compete with playoff quality teams from either conference.
This weekend, the Wizards may get Beal back. That is what the player himself told Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (hat tip Eye on Basketball).
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, sidelined since Dec. 11 because of a stress reaction in his right fibula, said Monday that he hopes to return either Friday against the Indiana Pacers or Saturday against the Boston Celtics.
Beal joined the Wizards on their two-game road trip to Orlando and Chicago, which concluded with a 114-110 victory over the Bulls Monday, to rev up his workload and said he could begin contact activity Tuesday when the Wizards return to Washington.
The Wizards need to get healthy — center Marcin Gortat was out Monday, for example — then try to establish a rhythm.
Particularly Beal and John Wall — when those two have shared the court this season Washington has an offensive rating of just 98 points per 100 possessions (more than three below the team average) and the Wizards get outscored by 3.6 per 100. The problem is the offense, which is seven points per 100 possessions worse with Beal on the court this season.
Those numbers are counter-intuitive (although Beal and Wall have played 520 minutes together, it’s not sample size). Coach Randy Wittman has to bet that if he can get what should be a powerhouse starting backcourt together and healthy, the offense will start to click. The Wizards are just two games out of a playoff spot in the East, they just need a little push and to make a run and they are in the mix.
The Wizards are betting on Beal to be that bump.