Ian Begley: The Wizards and John Wall have both said he’s not going to return in 2019-20 but some Eastern Conference teams expecting to head to Orlando are planning as if Wall may return to the court once the season resumes. Wall has been sideline since December 2018.
Fred Katz: John Wall: "I’m 110 percent. I’m healthy.” I will answer the follow-up, since he and the organization have said it 392 times: No, he does not plan on playing this season, even if there are more Wizards regular-season games to be played.
Wizards head coach and former Thunder head coach talked with 106.7 The Fan about Wall’s health, continuing the plan to bring him back next season. Here’s a link to the entire session. “No. Definitely not, but he’s definitely ready next season. He’s looking great. When I saw him last in March, he was terrific.”
“If we were continuing to play and he was going through more practices and continuing to progress and check off all the boxes that we need to be checked, then yeah. But nobody ever anticipated this would happen and we would still have, theoretically, 18 games left and it’s going to be mid-May soon. He will be ready,” Brooks said.
That was certainly the case in their latest episode, which featured Washington Wizards guard John Wall. After making five straight All-Star Games, Wall suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and hasn't played since December of 2018. Over the course of such a long absence, he's become something of a forgotten man around the league. But let Wall tell it, he's going to change that as soon as he gets back: When I'm not playing, I'm watching these guys play. Like these young guys, they killing our team and they looking at our bench and stuff. Just know I got those written down in my notes for when I come back when they start next season. I can't wait to see them what I got, what I'm about. But I'm gonna be better than what I was before, and that's the scary part. Damn near the whole five years I was an All-Star I played with two bone spurs in my knee and my heel. People don't know that. They ain't even get the best of John Wall yet, they just got a clip of him.
Wall was asked if the season being paused could help his chances of playing this year, given he now has more time to recover. Wall left no doubts about that possibility. "Nah," he said. "One of my ultimate goals is to make sure I'm fully, all the way healthy... in our best-case scenario, we're just going to wait until next season."
Wall, though, may have the resources to stay in shape, but none of that can recreate scrimmaging and practicing with teammates. "[Quarantine] kind of knocked [my rehab] off-balance because I'm not getting up-and-down in five-on-five and the conditioning I like to do," he said.
Chris Miller: #Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard says it’s still not feasible for @John Wall to play this season despite the #coronavirus postponing the #NBA season. #RepTheDistrict
On this early March afternoon, he was participating in a routine one-on-one drill. The ball had swung around the perimeter and eventually would go to the ball-handler at the top of the key, who was allowed up to three dribbles to make a move. The defender — in this case, a sacrificial lamb named Garrison Mathews — would scurry inside the 3-point line, fundamentally closing out and hoping to deter a basket. “Hoping” is the operative word here. It was Wall’s turn to go. He received a pass and put the ball on the ground. One dribble, two steps and liftoff. He threw down a lefty slam glorious enough that its release today should quench any fans’ thirst for the sports world’s first new highlight in weeks.
Rehab assignments after long-term injuries occur all the time in baseball. We’ve seen it grow more common in the NBA. Stephen Curry, for example, practiced with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in early March. Wall might be the most extreme case. He spent weeks running with the Go-Go before the season paused. “That has become such an important priority for us. How can we impact John’s rehab? We’re here for him and that’s our job,” Richman said. “Our job is to be in service of the Wizards and take care of our players and develop them.”
With each turn of the calendar, promising signs continued in Wall’s rehabilitation from a Achilles’ tendon injury. Those flashes might have led Washington Wizards fans to envision Wall suiting up for the first time in more than a year if the NBA returns this season. That won’t happen.
“We’ve said all along that we can’t wait until John plays next season, and I think that will still be our attitude and our stance,” Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said in a recent interview. “We’re very anxious to see John Wall in uniform next year. I don’t think any of this changes that.”
Despite the late-season break, don’t count on Wall to appear on the court during the 2019-20 campaign. The original plan the team and Wall had set remains unchanged: He will stay on the sideline during his 10th NBA season in an effort to fully recover from a left Achilles’ tendon injury suffered in January 2019. “We’ve said all along that we can’t wait until John plays next season, and I think that will still be our attitude and our stance,” Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said in a recent interview. “We’re very anxious to see John Wall in uniform next year. I don’t think any of this changes that.”
Barring something unexpected, we won't see John Wall in an NBA game for another seven months as he continues to take the long road back from a ruptured Achilles. The Wizards are being extra patient with him, knowing the nature of his injury and the stakes of his recovery, with a lot of money remaining on his contract. And when he comes back, expectations should probably be set accordingly. He is coming off a very serious injury, especially for a point guard whose game centers around speed and quickness.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks, though, has already seen enough behind closed doors to express some encouraging optimism. He believes Wall is going to eventually be the same player he was before his surgery. "He's putting his work in. He hasn't played a lot of 5-on-5, but he's played enough to see that he's going to be just fine," Brooks said. "He's going to be the John that we all love. He's going to be one of the best point guards in the league when he comes back."
Brooks went on to say that Wall is in good shape, that his "conditioning has been great." That is one of the areas he is continuing to work on after missing so much time. Wall himself has said that he needs to work himself into game shape before returning, that running and dunking are only part of the equation. So, the fact his conditioning is also getting close to normal is an excellent sign. Brooks, though, reiterated Wall's unlikelihood to play this season. "He's close, but the season is winding down," Brooks said.
Candace Buckner: #Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard is doing a Reddit AMA and one of the first questions he received was on John Wall's recovery. He revealed how Wall has been scrimmaging with the Go-Go
Candace Buckner: Tonight at #Wizards bowling event. John Wall was asked when did he get to the point to feeling OK if he doesn’t play this year: “That was my plan from the start.” Wall went to describe how he learned from DeMarcus Cousins, one year of rehab from an Achilles injury isn’t enough
Candace Buckner: John Wall participated in "bits and pieces" in #Wizards practice tonight, Coach Scott Brooks said. Brooks said the contact was "very light." Still, no change in his status.
While addressing Bradley Beal, Sheppard pointed out how Beal's life would be easier "when he gets John back next year." That prompted a follow-up and Sheppard explained why no one should expect Wall to play until the start of next season. "I think we have maintained that all along. We didn't plan on seeing him this year. I think that's fair to John, to manage the expectations for him," Sheppard said. "He's on his way, but he's not there and he's not close yet. He's a lot closer than he was a year ago when the injury happened."
No matter when you come back, you’re gonna have to build your physique back up. You’ll have to build it back up physically. You’ll be at whatever percentage health you are, and then you’ll get a little better. A month later, a little better. And so on. How much are you gonna depend on your mind vs. your speed? John Wall: But that’s why I’m taking my time so much and not coming back, because I don’t wanna be on a minutes restriction or do those types of things. I’m just trying to let my body heal, so when I do come back, if I gotta (play) 35 minutes, then I will. But the one thing with me is that when I come back from surgery, I don’t think about that. Since I’ve been on the basketball court, I haven’t thought about my Achilles one time.
Wall: And people (are) like, ‘Why don’t you? Aren’t you worried?’ I’m not worried, because they said when it’s healed, it’s healed. I’m gonna play basketball. So like, if I come back, I’m not gonna be the one like, ‘Oh shit. I gotta do this. I gotta do that.’ No. Play the way you play. Make adjustments with what you’ve seen and what you’ve worked on and developed to help your game, help the team. But I’m still gonna play basketball the way I know how to play.
Candace Buckner: John Wall is in Miami with the #Wizards and told me he spent the afternoon playing 5-on-5 with... Amar’e Stoudemire (!) at a local gym inside a hotel. This is a significant step in Wall’s Achilles’ rehabilitation. However, still don’t expect him to play this season.
Fred Katz: Lots of status updates from Scott Brooks today about John Wall, who played “controlled” 4-on-4 with teammates for the first time. Brooks says he still doesn’t know if Wall will play this year. All the quotes and info below: pic.twitter.com/VVN0EBpsDo
Fred Katz: More Brooks on Wall: "That guy is as competitive as I’ve seen an NBA player be, and it was taken away from him. Think about it. It’s 40 games. Last year, 50 games. This year, 41 so far — maybe 82. That’s not easy.” The rest of this is good stuff from Brooks: pic.twitter.com/XhWHQvVwES
The Wizards are very optimistic about Wall making a full recovery from his latest injury. I watched Wall go through the paces of a pregame workout recently, and he looks close to full strength. It still doesn’t make much sense for Washington to bring him back this season, but I like his chances for making a strong return next fall.
Fred Katz: Scott Brooks on John Wall playing 3-on-3 against player development staffers starting this week: "I thought he looked great yesterday. He looked really good.” @Chase Hughes reported today that Wall started participating in 3-on-3 games this week.
Candace Buckner: More Brooks on the team's decision to play John Wall, who will be approaching 11 months since his Achilles' surgery in January: "It’s going to happen organically. What I like what he’s doing, he’s getting after every workout.” Brooks says he's playing asst coaches 1 on 1
Candace Buckner: Scott Brooks seen the vids of John Wall dunking and working out in Detroit. While there is no timeline to make a decision IF he'll be play this season, Brooks says: “It’s not like we’re shutting him down and focusing on the 2020-21 season."
Chase Hughes: Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis, who said over the summer that John Wall will "probably not" play this year, said today "next year we will have John Wall back."
Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks joined “The Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan in DC on Tuesday and talked about some of the progress Wall is making in his recovery from the torn Achilles tendon. “He’s running, he’s jumping, he’s shooting. He’s shooting the lights out. That’s the good thing about an injury like he’s had — all you have to do is shoot. He’s looking good,” Brooks told “The Sports Junkies.” “Still lots of work to be done, but he has the right mindset. I anticipate him coming back and being as good as ever.”
Kevin Durant, now 31, is out with a torn Achilles. The Nets owe him $164,255,700 over the next four years. John Wall, now 29, is out with a torn Achilles. The Wizards owe him $171,131,520 over the next four years. Yet, Brooklyn is viewed to have a bright future in large part due to Durant. Washington is viewed to have a grim outlook in large part due to Wall. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis called out the dichotomy. Leonsis on The Habershow: "Why is everyone so positive – Kevin Durant has the same injury as John Wall and is older."
Since signing the deal in January 2018, Wall has been sidelined by a series of injuries, limiting his on-court visibility while wearing the brand's products. Just three weeks after landing the contract, Wall missed 27 games because of a left-knee injury. The injury cost him what would have been his fifth All-Star Game appearance the following month, when he was expected to help headline the brand's Crazy BYW X sneaker in Los Angeles.
Shams Charania: The NBA has denied the Washington Wizards‘ request for a Disabled Player Exception for injured All-Star John Wall, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Shams Charania: The Wizards had applied for a $9.2M DPE due to loss of John Wall, who has been expected to miss the season rehabbing from a torn Achillies.
Bobby Marks: A player has to be deemed out until June 15 for a team to be awarded a Disabled Player Exception. Being ruled out for the regular season doesn’t meet the criteria.
Nowadays, things are much better for Wall. He is doing on-court work at the Wizards' practice facility. He can shoot jumpers and do individual ball-handling and passing drills. He can jog and lift weights. After months of waiting to just have his walking boot come off, Wall is very appreciative to simply be able to do anything on the basketball court. "Just to do the ball-handling and be able to shoot and do the weight-lifting, that's a great aspect [of my progress]. It makes it easier for me because I'm in a great space where it's fun," he said.
Wall can admit now after the fact it was a difficult time for him. "I've just put in a lot of hard work," he said. "For me to be where I'm at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like 'man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'"
Wall can admit now after the fact it was a difficult time for him. "I've just put in a lot of hard work," he said. "For me to be where I'm at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like 'man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'" What made that last part particularly frustrating was where Wall makes his offseason home. He summers in Miami, a place notorious for its humidity. "I was in Miami during the summertime in a boot. Like, man, I don't want to be in hot Miami in a boot, sweating," he said.
“I’m in no rush,” Wall said. “Only [I] can know how my body feel. Everybody has a deadline of, ‘Okay, at the year point you’re supposed to be back playing basketball.’ It doesn’t always work that way. Whenever doctors tell me anything like that, [they say,] ‘It’s all up to John Wall and how your body feel and do you feel like you can go out there and play the game you love at the highest level.’ I’m in no rush.”
Fred Katz: John Wall on his injury: “I’m in no rush (to come back). Only me can know how my body feels.“ Says his timetable “is all up to John Wall.”
Candace Buckner: John Wall spoke about his rehab. While others may have timelines about what he should be doing in a year, Wall said he knows his body and will take his cues from it. "I’m in no rush. "
Wall is out for most, if not all, of the season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon — Sheppard said the NBA has not ruled on whether Washington can use a disabled player exception — leaving Beal as the unquestioned best player and leader of the Wizards. “Really excited to see what Bradley Beal does this season,” Sheppard said. “He’s a tremendous cornerstone of this franchise. We’re very blessed to have him.”
Ted Leonsis: We are all proud of John Wall and how he is progressing and working on his recovery – physically, emotionally and psychologically; He's working on his college degree too, and we intend to embrace him as an organization. nbcsports.com/washington/wiz…
What about the other scenario, with the Heat taking on both Wall and Beal with the understanding that Miami wouldn’t need to give up nearly as much quality in return? As we reported in early July, that scenario has been seriously discussed inside the Heat and there’s sentiment to do that, because of how much the Heat loves Beal and because of the internal belief that Miami can get Wall back to All-Star level following his ruptured Achilles, which is expected to sideline him this upcoming season.
Chase Hughes: Today is John Wall’s annual backpack giveaway, this time in Capitol Heights, MD. He just addressed the media, saying he doesn’t want to sit out all of next year but will listen to Wizards doctors. More later @NBCSWizards. pic.twitter.com/lzHg0PjOkQ
Durant's familiarity and comfort level with the Nets medical staff was a major determining factor in him ultimately signing a deal to come to Brooklyn. While most critics are scoffing at the thought of Durant seeing the hardwood this upcoming season, according to Weinfeld, Durant's chances are exceedingly better than that of injured Wizards star John Wall's. "A point guard plays a different kind of game than Kevin Durant does," noted Dr. Weinfeld. "An explosive type athlete, his demand is different than that of Kevin Durant's. You talk about odds of coming back to where he was, I think Durant's odds are better than an athlete like John Wall whose whole game is quickness and explosiveness. He [Wall] counts much more on those muscles being exactly where they need to be as opposed to a player like Durant and his style.
While many expect not to see either Wall or Durant until the 2020-2021 season, Dr. Weinfeld is confident that Durant can return to the player fans saw lead the Warriors to two championships, three straight finals appearances, and dominate the NBA as a two-time Finals MVP and league MVP. "I think he'll probably be somewhere between 90 and 100 percent," stated Dr. Weinfeld. "That's my thought assuming everything goes smoothly and he doesn't have any setbacks I think you can expect somehwere in the 90 to 100 percent range."
Sam Vecenie: The Washington Wizards have applied for a Disabled Player Exception in respect to John Wall, per a source. Team has not yet received notification from league as to whether or not the application has been granted or denied.
But on Monday night, Wall, standing upright and looking trim in a pink suit jacket, shared an updated timeline for his rehabilitation. “I’m about to start jogging in like two weeks,” he told NBC Sports Washington on the red carpet of the NBA Awards show in Santa Monica, Calif. “Just riding the bike,” Wall said, describing his current workload. “I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don’t have to sit down. I’m able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things.”
With that in mind, Leonsis is taking the long view. He wants Wall and the Wizards to get his rehab right, no matter how long it takes. "John understands his commitment will show from this rehab," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. "If it takes the whole season, we don't care. We are not putting pressure on you on a time. "Make sure that you are rehabilitating in the right way so that when you do come back, you don't have that little voice in your head [saying] 'did I do everything the right way to be able to come back and be a great, great player?'"
From a distance, Arenas has watched as Wall has endured multiple knee surgeries and, now, a pair of Achilles surgeries that ended his 2018-19 season and could end his 2019-20 season before it begins. He knows Wall. He knows the franchise. He knows the fans. And he knows the media pressure and inevitable story lines. His message to Wall, who inherited the Wizards from him as the top pick in the 2010 draft, is this: The prospect of another long-term rehabilitation might be excruciating and the injuries might require adjustments, but your career isn’t over. “John Wall is still going to be a valuable point guard,” Arenas said, by phone from Las Vegas where he attended the Big 3 draft Wednesday. “He will still have his IQ. His speed is going to be there. He might lose some jumping ability. He’s still going to be better than above-average, better than Ricky Rubio and Lonzo Ball. Why do people want to get rid of him? For what? A lesser player? Because that’s what you’re going to get.”
A person close to Wall said this injury, dismaying as it is, is what he probably needed to “grow up” some more. Nothing like the prospect of facing basketball mortality to inspire some maturity. Wall said he’s spent his time away from the game to enjoy the time he gets to share with his infant son, Ace. He’s also gained a greater appreciation for the game and what it has provided for him and his family. And, he’s been bathing in the words of his detractors. “Just hearing what people say, that just keeps my fuel going,” Wall said. “I read all the articles. It’s over. His career is over. All that type of stuff. So, it’s fun for me.”
Wall spoke to reporters at halftime of the Wizards’ last regular-season game Tuesday night. He said his goal is to return next season, “but whenever the doctors clear me and get to that point, then I will know.”
Candace Buckner: John Wall spoke to media during halftime of the #Wizards game. He says he's "almost" close to getting the stitches removed from his left foot. When the stitches are taken out, he will no longer have to use a scoooter, but just a walking boot for the next month.
Fred Katz: Wall said he reads "all the articles" and what people say keeps him going. So, what do people say? "'It’s over. His career is over.' All that type of stuff. So, it’s fun for me."
Fred Katz: John Wall on how he’d feel if the Wizards drafted a point guard: “I’d be fine. I have no problem with that because it is what it is. You have to do what’s best for the team...We wanna make sure that we have pieces. And when I come back, he can be a great backup to me.”
Wall and the Wizards have not discussed the potential of him sitting out for the entire 2019-20 season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The plan remains for Wall to rehabilitate and come back healthy, however long that takes. Whether he plays or not, Wall’s “supermax” contract extension is set to begin next season, making him one of the highest-paid players in the NBA: He’ll have a $37.8 million starting salary.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The biggest concern for potential candidates with Washington: How to engage on a rebuild with John Wall’s massive long-term contract and serious injury looming over franchise.
Chase Hughes: John Wall worked the crowd signing autographs and taking pictures on his way to the bench at halftime, still moving by way of a scooter. pic.twitter.com/GhzZ1ekuCl
Chase Hughes: Joel Embiid said he texted John Wall when he heard the news of his Achilles injury. He said to get through it, Wall needs to “trust the process.” pic.twitter.com/RsGhfp8ZUQ
Shams Charania: Sources: Wizards star John Wall underwent successful surgery on his ruptured Achilles tendon. He will be out for 12 months.
John Wall has a history of trying to play through pain. His latest setback is forcing the Washington Wizards guard to take a different approach. "I guess God is telling me something," Wall said Friday night about the ruptured Achilles tendon that will force him to miss at least the majority of the 2019-20 season. "To sit down and get yourself fully healthy. I've played through injuries my whole career. I know a lot of people who played through injuries and don't sit down. That's one thing I don't like to do. If something that's nagging or not broken, I want to play. I guess it kind of caught up to me."
But Wall, whose $170 million "supermax" contract extension kicks starting next season, is optimistic about his future. "All the people that talk negative like 'You're not coming back,' that just motivates me even more," Wall said. Wall suffered the Achilles injury after slipping and falling at home. "I understand I had an infection and getting off antibiotics, I felt like something wasn't going right," Wall said. "I slipped, but I don't think that's the main reason. ... My pain was still the same. I didn't have discomfort."
Hoop District: John Wall on support from #DCFamily: "This whole organization, this city period, from day one they embraced me. This is like a second home to me. As long as I’ve got their support and the organization behind me, I don’t care what the outside world says."
Jeff Zillgitt: Can confirm Otto Porter Jr is headed to the Bulls. The Wizards were content to keep Otto Porter Jr. as recent as earlier this week. But that was before news of the John Wall injury, which changed things for Washington.
Malika Andrews: More Brooks on John Wall: “He's definitely going to be missed. You're not going to replace a 5-time All-Star that is in the prime of his career. So you have to overcome it if you want to move forward as a group.”
He hasn’t yet spoken with reporters since the team announced his surgery, but the press release stated that Wall suffered the ruptured Achilles “slipping and falling in his home.” Dr. Douoguih said on the conference call that the slip occurred while getting into the shower Jan. 29. Wall informed Douoguih about the fall, but doctors didn’t realize he had ruptured the Achilles in the moment. Douoguih discovered it Monday while performing an exploratory surgery to treat an infection that resulted from the initial surgery to remove the bone spurs, which Wall underwent on Jan. 8.
Wall, who already had season-ending surgery on his left heel on Jan. 8, will be sidelined for about the next 12 months after rupturing his left Achilles tendon on Tuesday. The Wizards said that Wall slipped and fell at his home last week. So, Cousins spoke with Wall on Tuesday morning. “It sucks. It’s unfortunate,” said Cousins who injured his left Achilles tendon last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. “But me knowing John as well as I do, I know he’ll overcome this. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. He’s overcome a lot more obstacles in his life. Just add this to the list.”
“I know John pretty well. He’s a mentally strong guy,” said Cousins, who played with Wall at the University of Kentucky. “I basically told him to prepare for the hard days because there’s a lot. Through it all, make sure you try to better yourself each day. Once that day is behind you, move on to the next regardless of the results. That was my advice. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll come back.”
Wizards guard John Wall will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles tendon. The procedure, which has yet to be scheduled, will be performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, WI. Wall is expected to return to full basketball activity in approximately 12 months from the time of the surgery.
Wall had developed an infection in the incision from initial surgery on Jan. 8 (a debridement and repair of a Haglund’s deformity and a chronic Achilles tendon injury in his left heel that was also performed by Dr. Anderson) and he suffered the rupture after slipping and falling in his home. The rupture was diagnosed by Wizards Director of Medical Services and Orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih during a procedure to clean out the infection.
May 19, 2022 | 12:59 am EDT Update
Jones told Burns & Gambo on Wednesday that he believes Deandre Ayton will be back with the Suns next season. “Deandre had an amazing season and he’s progressed every year and improved every year,” the GM said. “He’s been here and so he’s a big part of what we do. His future with us is something we will address at the proper time which is in the future. He’s a free agent and I’ve said all along, he’s about the same things we’re about which is winning. We’ll address it at the proper time.”
On possible supermax deal for Devin Booker and rookie extension for Cam Johnson. If Booker makes All-NBA this year, he’ll be eligible for a four-year deal worth $211 million while Johnson is up for a rookie extension heading into his fourth NBA season: James Jones: “That’s a part of the business. As your team improves, typically your payroll increases. We’re focused on improving the team and those guys, they deserve the credit. They deserve the accolades and the financial rewards that come with being good players and productive players. It doesn’t preclude us from doing anything. We’re not talking about a luxury tax issues or avoiding those things. That’s not something that’s going to prevent us from continuing to build this team and keep this team together.”
“Had a great year, just one of those nights,” said O’Neal as Ayton finished in Sunday’s Game 7 against Dallas with a career playoff-low five points on 2-of-5 shooting. “Phoenix had a great year, just one of those nights. This is a classy organization. This is a classy team. Can’t say bad things about them. They played hard. Again, even great players have one of those nights.” O’Neal, and fellow TNT NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley discussed Ayton’s future with the Suns after the top overall seed was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday’s Game 7 in Phoenix. “You’ve got to re-sign Ayton,” Barkley said.
“(McGee) played well, he was a great addition to the team, but it all hinges on Deandre Ayton,” Barkley said. “It’s him and Booker. They are the guys going forward. Chris is going to be 38 (years old). He’s going to get the ball to the right person, but it’s time for Booker and Ayton. You can’t have a bad game like they did. Chris, he had a tough night, but Ayton and Booker, they’ve got to play well.”
Once Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson slowed down, caught their breath and stopped rushing shots, the Splash Brothers got on a roll that proved too much for Dallas to stop. Especially because Andrew Wiggins worked end to end to make sure Luka Doncic couldn’t get going. Curry had 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, Golden State held Doncic in check and the Warriors beat the Mavericks 112-87 on Wednesday night for a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. “Just make him work, that was the main thing,” Wiggins said.
Doncic scored 20 points but shot just 6 for 18 and 3 of 10 from deep. He made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half to get his team within 54-45 at the break, but Curry and Thompson heated up and helped the Warriors pull away in the second half. “A great job. That’s it,” Doncic said. “They did a great job.” Jalen Brunson scored 14 points but missed all five of his 3s for the surprising Mavs, who stunned the top-seeded Suns in a 123-90 thumping in Game 7 on Sunday in Phoenix.
“They did a really good job. Wiggins picking him up full court,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “They went box-and-one, they went zone. We understood coming into the series that we were going to see that. We’ll go back and look at the video and see what we can do better.” Stopping Doncic, who was averaging 31.5 points in the playoffs, is the tall task this time after the Warriors already handled two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver in the first round, then Ja Morant early last series before his knee injury. “I thought Wiggs was fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Doncic is as difficult a cover as there is in this league. … It’s important to make him work. He’s so good. Any great player in the league you’re trying to limit the damage that they do.”