Coach’s orders: If Wizards are to get to 50 wins, they will have to do so without Wall, Beal, Morris vs. Heat
Don’t look for Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris to play in the Washington Wizards’ regular season finale. Head coach Scott Brooks expressed his intentions to hold out some of the starters in Wednesday’s tilt with the Miami Heat. Meanwhile, Beal expressed his desire to play as the Wizards seek a milestone 50th win of the season. However, Brooks appears to have overruled the notion.
Brooks will hold out Beal and Morris along with John Wall versus the Heat. Otto Porter, who missed the previous two games with back spasms will return for Wednesday’s game but will play roughly 16 minutes, according to Brooks. The decision to rest players was not particularly popular among the players, who want to get to 50 wins. The last time Washington won 50 games was in 1978-79.
“I usually don’t have one-sided conversations but this was a one-sided conversation,” Brooks said of his notification to the players via Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. “I didn’t give them a chance to talk and looking at their facial expressions, I’m sure they were thinking some things that probably would’ve been inappropriate for them to tell their head coach.”
The Wizards locked up the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference over the weekend. And while the team appeared set to reach the goal of 50 wins, Brooks’ mindset regarding the milestone may have altered when backup center Ian Mahinmi suffered a strained calf in Monday’s win over the Detroit Pistons in a meaningless game. Due to swelling in the calf, Mahinmi will miss the start of the playoffs.
“No player wants to sit down. Everybody loves to play,” Beal said per Buckner. “We’re all young. I feel like we’re chasing after something but we’re still confident in the guys who are going to step a foot out here. I would definitely love to play but I understand Coach’s logic behind it. I’m cool with it. It’s not like I really have a choice so to speak, so I just control what I control and it is what it is.”
Washington could ill afford losing Beal, Wall, or Morris — as well as Porter and Marcin Gortat. The Wizards will enter the postseason with the second-most efficient starting lineup in the NBA, only second to the mega lineup of the Golden State Warriors. Considering the team has seen the adverse effect of having a key player injured in the postseason — 2015 when Wall broke his wrist in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Atlanta — the organization would rather lean on the side of precaution even if it upsets their star players.