No one can question John Wall's dedication to the Wizards. It has become abundantly obvious that Wall carries Washington, and this week has been a case study in that. Last Sunday, he had one of his grittiest performances of the season against the Denver Nuggets. He played a whopping 42 minutes, notched 16 assists and 19 points to lead Washington to a narrow 2 point OT victory. After a day off, Wall became listed as questionable because of a sore Achilles tendon and migraines. At first this wasn't a cause for concern, as Washington was scheduled to visit a Lakers team that was on a 8-game losing streak. If there was ever a game we could sit Wall this would be it. At worst, he would have a minutes cap and but still get some well deserved rest on the bench while Andre Miller handled things.
It became evident very early that this was not going to be the case, as Wayne Ellington and Jordan Clarkson took over the first half with 33 combined points for the Lakers. Down by 11 at the half, Wall clearly was going to be needed for the rest of the game in order to avoid an embarrassing upset. The Wizards overcame the deficit comfortably in the second half, led by Wall playing 18 of the remaining minutes (36 overall). However, he walked off the court limping gingerly to the locker room after he stepped on a cameraman late in the 4th. After the game, when asked why he returned despite his obvious discomfort he said this:
"I'm just a competitive person... I'm just a guy that doesn't want to let my guys down... I don't like to sit out games. I sat out too many my first three years."
During Wednesday night's game in Phoenix, John clearly wasn't himself. He shot 5-of-16 from the field (31%), and only notched 7 assists to go with 5 turnovers. Despite his significantly decreased production, he still played 36 minutes because a hobbled John is still better than whatever Andre Miller's been doing recently. To make matters worse, his efforts would not be rewarded with a W this time. After the loss to the Suns, John echoed the same sentiment he voiced the previous night:
"I missed too many game my first three years to miss games now... Hopefully the two days off will help. But if it ain't broken, I'll play."
"If it ain't broken I'll play". I appreciate John's commitment to seeing the Wizards franchise win, it's the kind of commitment any fan base would want their superstar to have. But Washington needs to approach this situation with caution. John Wall has started in 189 consecutive games, but only two seasons ago he was sidelined for 33 games due to injury. When the ailments pile up for a player like this, not only will he not be at his full potential but he may turn the relatively minor injuries into major ones.
John Wall has been very adamant he won't miss Saturday's game against Toronto, but he needs a night or two off. This is a situation where if John isn't in game shape, Randy Wittman needs to step in and force him to rest. His migraines have been getting steadily worse, and the Achilles tightness is very worrisome. These issues should be resolved before he comes back, because a major injury to Wall would decimate Washington's Finals hopes (I don't need to remind Wizards fans that they went 5-28 in Wall's last substantial absence).
Andre Miller's slump makes many people nervous to give him the starting reigns to the offense, which will stagnate to a crawling pace when compared to Wall's typical break-neck speed. Frankly the Wiz will almost certainly lose to the Raptors if John doesn't play and the Charlotte game could be tough without him as well. Luckily, Washington has built themselves a small cushion in the standings between themselves and Cleveland, so a couple dropped games could do wonders for John's health in the long-term.
Hopefully, these next two days off will be enough for John to get back into game shape. He is seeing a migraine specialist on Friday, and depending on the degrees of ankle sprain and tightness in the Achilles two days may be all he needs. All I ask is that John and the Wizards exercise caution, and do everything to avoid a major setback in what has thus far been a very successful season.