John Wall: DNP—eyeball.
If this were the regular season and not the Eastern Conference Semifinals, we may have actually seen that injury listing. At least if remarks by the Washington Wizards point guard—offered in the wake of their 85-63 Game 3 loss to the Indiana Pacers—are to be believed.
"I barely could see after I got hit in the eye," Wall told J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. "I got a cut on my eye so I had to put contacts in to get the medicine to cover the cut."
Judging by Wall’s shooting in the series thus far (40 of 117 from the field, a discouraging 34 percent), we’d probably believe him if he told us his head had been invaded by millions of tiny fire-breathing eye dragons.
Eye dragons aside, Wall told Michael he should be good to go for Game 4 on Sunday.
Wall’s struggles have understandably put many a Wizards fan on nervous notice. But as Rob Mahoney posited in a recent roundtable for Sports Illustrated, while Wall may not boast the big shot-making ability of fellow breakout performer Damian Lillard, the upside remains squarely on the former’s side.
It’s a tough call, still. Wall might never be the kind of player whom the Wizards can rely on to hit big, momentum-swinging shots in the way the Blazers lean on Lillard, who seems to ace most every test when it comes to his poise as a scorer. In the final balance, though, I’d sleep well at night betting on Wall’s dribble penetration, potential for improvement and ability to pick out open shooters.
Wherever Wall’s offensive talents reside, he’ll need to wield them with a warrior’s fury if the Wizards have any hope of staving off the suddenly rejuvenated Indiana Pacers defense.
How bad has it been for the Wizards? In Indy’s two wins, Washington is averaging 72.5 points on 39 percent shooting (including 25 percent from distance, a decided area of strength during the regular season) while averaging only 15 assists.
Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Marcin Gortat: You know, the guys with two functioning eyeballs? Washington needs contributions from all of them.
From Wall, they’ll need something both an extra cut above and a return to what we already know is there: an All-Star point with the speed of a rocket and a fire to match.