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How the Wizards can cope with Wall's injury in these playoffs

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Whether he's sidelined or not, the Wizards will be a much different team moving forward in these playoffs. Here's what needs to happen for them to make it out of the second round.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

There isn't any other way of putting this. The news of John Wall suffering five (FIVE!) non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist absolutely sucks.

You can go through the list of NBA injuries like this. Anthony Davis fractured his fifth metacarpal (non-displaced) after hitting his hand on the rim early last season and was expected to be out four-to-six weeks. He got his cast removed two weeks later and returned to action after missing just seven games. The Nets failed to diagnose Paul Pierce's injury after a pair of X-rays (like Wall's), but eventually found a "small crack" (turned out to be a non-displaced fracture) in his shooting hand through an MRI, causing him to miss four games. And if you recall, Kevin Love came back sooner-than-expected after fracturing his hand doing knuckle push-ups during training camp, then ended up re-fracturing it two months later, causing him to miss the rest of the season.

You can't compare these injuries though, and the Wizards haven't disclosed where exactly the fracture takes place. If it's as severe as Bradley Beal's was back in training camp, and it's to the scaphoid bone, it could require surgery. But Wall hasn't been ruled out per the team's press release, and there's no mention of surgery being required like there was when with Beal. Still, you can't rule it out, and of the injuries I mentioned, none contain multiple fractures like Wall's.

It is the non-shooting hand though, and if everything checks out by Saturday, he could strap on a protective brace and give it a go. But just because it's non-displaced, doesn't mean it can't worsen, and taking into account the long-term effects if he exacerbates it, I'm not sure it's in his best interests to play.

Anything can happen between now and Saturday. I trust the medical staff and Wall's judgement enough to make the right decision — whatever it may be — but it's safe to assume John won't be the same player in these playoffs. He may not shoot with his left hand, but he often finishes near the basket with it, and it will certainly be a hindrance to him when he dribbles. That leaves Ramon Sessions as your likely starter in game 3, but he's not the only player that'll need to fill the void.

Wizards need more out of Nene

The first two games of this series have not been kind to Nene. He's currently 0-9 from the field, with a 1:6 assist to turnover ratio and a plus/minus of -17. It doesn't matter whether it's Wall or Sessions manning the point; Nene has been a one-man wrecking crew to a starting lineup that has consistently churned out a positive net-rating over the last two years. In both lineups, the Wizards have given up a ghastly 119 points per 100 possessions or worse, and it's largely been due to Nene becoming a shell of himself.

He's consistently falling short of the one aspect of defense that's kept him effective despite the various maladies he's dealt with each season. Even through the plantar fasciitis, the one thing you couldn't knock him on was his ability to properly position himself against a pick and roll and hedge out on ball handlers when necessary. Now, Atlanta is going at him every chance they get:

That lack of foot speed has simply killed the Wizards, and the Hawks' offense -- highly predicated on ball movement -- isn't afraid of breaking off into iso's if it means getting Paul Millsap easy drive-and-kick opportunities.

millsap blow by

Millsap is destroying whoever Randy Wittman has thrown his way which is also a big reason why Washington's small ball units haven't been as effective. Millsap is not only quicker than Nene and Gooden, but he's quicker and stronger than Pierce, and when paired with a stretch-five like Pero Antic, he can simply feast in the lane. This is where the Wizards have had no answers; with Nene in this funk, there isn't a center on this roster than can adequately defend the perimeter.

Their best hope is if he bounces back at home and gives them that center they need in those lineups, but that could be a stretch considering it hasn't been just the physical defects hampering his play. He's committing mindless turnovers as noted by that horrendous assist to turnover ratio -- crosscourt passes into the middle of a crowded lane or over the shoulder passes while on the block -- and he's ball-watching too, which is lethal anytime Kyle Korver is on the floor.

nene ball watching

All of these mistakes pile up, and without Wall, every possession has added value moving forward. The Wizards don't need the same Nene from last year's playoffs, but they can't afford to see him like this either.

Finding a way to simplify Beal's reads

The Wizards are not getting by plugging Sessions and Beal into the Wall role, but what they can do is simplify their reads by working their offense out of their HORNS set, which calls for a ball handler up top, two players at the elbows, and two players in the corner.

This is what Washington did so well in that third quarter. Both possessions end in Beal getting into the lane, and it's because he's attacking a defense that's still shifting around rather than staying put, which is what we saw on a couple of those iso's against Horford in game 2. They can't get by in this series by overtaxing Beal and hoping he can create for others, but if you can find a way to get him the ball on the move, they can put up points efficiently.

Ramon Sessions has to stay within the offense.

Sessions had a great game 2, partly because of how he managed to settle into the game. In the early going he looked a little trigger-happy, and seemed to break from the offense in order to barrel into the lane and draw fouls. But surely enough, he showed more patience, waited for the floor to develop and allowed his big man to screen and re-screen when there wasn't an opening available. It helps that he came out of the half the way he did -- scoring 10 points in the first three minutes -- but that ability balance looking for his own shot and creating for others will be key.