If Wall didn’t get hurt, maybe Washington would have beat the Hawks in the second round. But it’s tough to see the Wizards overcoming the Cavaliers in the conference finals.
Still, Wall again set a high bar for this season, including joining the MVP discussion.
Instead, Wall has griped about ranking fifth in Eastern Conference All-Star guard voting, and the Wizards are 10th in the conference.
“I think about it every day, to be honest with you,” Wall said as he strolled to the loading dock at Philips Arena early Monday afternoon following the Wizards’ shootaround. “I’m thinking, ‘There’s no way in hell we should be in this situation. We should already have a playoff spot. We should be done with that.’ Now we’re fighting for dear life.”
“I don’t like it,” Wall said of the Wizards’ standing. “Don’t matter if I’m averaging 20, 10, and 5, and was an all-star. It don’t mean nothing to me.”
“It’s still a failure that we didn’t get a higher seed but it’s never a failure if you get in because our ultimate goal is just get in the playoffs,” Wall said. “We know what our goal was at the beginning of the year, to be a top-four seed, a top-three seed. We failed that part. But just to still be able to get in after the stuff we went through, injuries and then having slow starts and not being defend people, I feel like we can give anybody a run for their money in the playoffs.”
The Wizards have undergone a small revival since trading for Markieff Morris. In some ways, Wall should appreciate Washington – 1.5 games and two teams outside playoff position – being in the realistic postseason race at all. Not long ago, the season looked lost.
Wall can also take solace in the fact that the Wizards have won playoff series the last two years as the lower seed. Randy Wittman has suddenly looked like a genius in the postseason, and this team is tough on the road.
But, after struggling to adapt to increased small ball, they’re finding a happy medium in strategy. They’ve won five straight and are playing with renewed confidence.
I still don’t think they’ll make the playoffs, but they have a real chance. Their slow start still weighs on their record.
But if they qualify, as Wall says, they can threaten higher-seeded opponents.