Beal: ‘If we play like this we’re going to get swept’
began to give him trouble April 6 against New York. Porter explained in January what is key for his hip in order to have his back not be an issue:
“Making sure it’s feeling good, loose, it doesn’t lock up,” Porter said. “That locks up my back where I can’t move. I can deal with the hip thing. It’s not a problem. It’s anything else. If something happened to my hip, it’s OK, know what it is. Do some one-legged squats to open it up a little bit and
I can play.”
Only Porter and Beal will set career-highs in minutes played this season. Wall,
Morris and Marcin Gortat have each endured larger workloads in the past. It was easy for Bradley Beal and Porter to reach their max marks since each were finally healthy for a season after multiple injuries to start their careers.
Brooks has stated multiple times that he is against resting players just to give them a break. When addressing the topic, Brooks was talking about players not dressing for a game as opposed to a shave in minutes late in the season.
He is also searching for the January version of his team, the one that buzzed through its schedule and ascended the Eastern Conference standings. The one that played suitable defense.
Blending those preferences leads to Brooks’ conundrum. Winning the next two games would make this edition of the Wizards the first to reach 50 wins since 1979. The players, and Brooks, are aware. He’s even brought it up to the team as a final carrot to hang in front of their face. Thoughts seem to compete in his head with the playoffs set for the coming weekend.
“You want to play well, you want to be healthy first and foremost,” Brooks said. “But, you want to play well. I’ve been on teams that we did not finish strong, but we won our first couple games. I’ve been on the other way. We finished strong and split at home. You just want to play well going into the playoffs and you want to be prepared and give yourself the best chance to win in the playoffs. We’re fortunate enough to have homecourt and we want to take advantage of that.”
The playoff schedule should help Brooks’ ability to provide players a break. Washington is not expected to open the playoffs until Saturday at home — maybe even Sunday — and will receive at least a day off in between consecutive home games. By the time the playoffs begin, almost a month will have passed since that last happened.
Though, before that starts, warnings were sent out by the two heavyweight voices in the Washington Wizards’ locker room:
“We just got to realize if we play like this we’re going to get swept,” Bradley Beal said. “Plain and simple. We just have to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out what kind of team we want to be. [Do] we want to be a hot team going into the playoff or [do] we want to be a complacent team that will be home early?”
“If we don’t play defense, we will not win a game,” Wall said.
That’s clear enough.
As Washington’s playoff position is defined by those around it, Wizards coach Scott Brooks has a main question remaining in the final two games: Does he value rest over rhythm?
The Wizards are locked into the No. 4 seed thanks to Toronto’s win in New York on Sunday. Their likely first-round opponent is the Atlanta Hawks, though Milwaukee and Indiana remain possible opposition.
What Washington does in its final two regular-season games — Monday at Detroit and Wednesday at pesky Miami — will not influence its playoff spot. The Pistons have been eliminated from the playoffs. Miami is on the edge of getting in, starting Sunday in ninth because Chicago owns the head-to-head season tiebreaker with the Heat. By Wednesday, Miami could be out of the playoffs or going all-out to get in.
Which leaves the aforementioned decision for Brooks. Throughout the season, there has been grumbling about the amount of minutes played by Washington’s starting five. In John Wall’s case, the concern is overblown. His total minutes are in line with what he has played in the past, plus, the practice workload under Brooks has been greatly reduced. The schedule was also softer overall for everyone this season thanks to tweaks by the league.
Markieff Morris sat out a game last week because of a sore right ankle. Otto Porter missed Saturday’s game because of back spasms. Porter’s back problems are often derived from his hip, which has bothered him for several seasons. His back