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Wizards' fate rests on the health of All-Star Wall

Washington leaves with split, but eyes on point guard's left wrist

POSTED: May 6, 2015 8:15 AM ET

By Sekou Smith

BY Sekou Smith

NBA.com

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Wizards on Game 2 Loss

The Wizards talk with the media following their Game 2 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta.

— A severely sprained left wrist is all that stands between the Washington Wizards and a commanding 2-0 lead over the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

At least that's the theory the Wizards left town with after losing Game 2 to the Hawks Tuesday night at Philips Arena without the services of their All-Star point guard John Wall, whose sprained left wrist kept him out of the game and will no doubt be a determining factor in this series going forward.

If Wall can use the three days between games to get enough treatment to bring the swelling down and allow him to be at his effective best by Saturday's Game 3, the Wizards have shown themselves to be up to the task of dealing with the Hawks. They were in Game 2 until the very end fading in the final minutes before falling 106-90.

If not ... well, the task becomes infinitely more difficult.

Wall said it took him seconds to realize before Tuesday's game that he was not going to be able to play through the swelling and the pain. He walked out to the floor for pregame warm ups and promptly walked back to the Wizards' locker room.

"It was real, real tough," he said of the decision not to play. "I came in and did what I usually do before a game and did some more ballhandling stuff, tried to pound it in and take some jump shots and it was just real, real tough to do. It's a real, real bad sprain. I'm going to try and do as much treatment as I can and get the swelling to go down even more to reduce the pain."

Wall insisted that the injury, suffered in the first half of the Wizards' Game 1 win Monday, is not any more severe than a sprain. There is no break or fracture. Wizards coach Randy Wittman said Wall is "day-to-day."

But that does not mean the Wizards don't have to sweat it out the next few days wondering if they'll get their leader and best player back in uniform and in the lineup.

"Definitely you miss Wall," said Paul Pierce, who scored 15 points. "Your All-Star starter and best player. Of course, you miss him. But we're not going to cry foul and use that as an excuse. We've got to band together collectively, use the guys we have, and we feel like we can beat them with what we have."

It appeared that way for much of Game 2, with Ramon Sessions filling in admirably with the starting unit (team-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting, four assists and three rebounds and just two turnovers). The Hawks struggled to shake free from the Wizards until a late surge in the final two minutes of the game.

That was easily the most frustrating part for Wall, watching his team go down during crunch time during that point in the game when he's usually at his mercurial best.

"It was definitely frustrating but guys stepped up and played well," Wall said after the game, his left hand and wrist wrapped up in a brace with velcro straps for the late-night flight home to Washington. "Sessions played well. Brad and those guys, everybody stepped in and played well. It was just a couple of times we got close and tied it up and they made some plays and we couldn't get over the hump. But I love the way guys went out and competed and we gave ourselves a chance to win the game."

The Wizards head home with the ultimate mission accomplished. They snatched Game 1 and now have the benefit of working with home court advantage.

If Wall's prognosis does not improve, though, if these three days between games do not allow him to heal quickly ... whatever momentum was built during their first stint here could be wasted.

"I can't really say," Wall said when asked if he was worried he would not be available for the rest of the series. "When it happened I got treatment for 24 hours straight. I was doing everything I can. It's all up to God. God has a plan and all I can do is keep getting treatment and try to get better and prepare myself like I'm playing in Game 3."

Sekou Smith is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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