John Wall, along with Bradley Beal, carried the Washington Wizards to the franchise’s most magical season since 1979. Wall carried a career season into the playoffs, breaking through with arguably the greatest postseason by a Washington Wizards player in 40 years. He did so logging in a large dose of minutes in large due to the lack of support he and his fellow starters had from their bench.
After logging in the fifth most minutes in the NBA during the regular season, Wall logged in 39 minutes per game during the postseason, in part being the best player on the team, as Wizards head coach Scott Brooks searched for an answer through his befuddling bench.
So in Monday’s Game 7 with their playoff lives on the line, Brooks had no choice to roll the dice with Wall and Beal playing heavy minutes in the second half. By the 10:00 mark in the fourth quarter it was evidently clear Wall was gassed. He struggled to get through the game, emptying all he had on the court. He logged in 44 minutes in defeat and his game suffered from it.
He missed his final 11 shots and with his legs gone, Wall resulted to chucking up seven misfires from three point range. If only the starters could have gotten something out of its bench. Meanwhile, on the other side, Boston was getting arguably its best performance from its bench, as Kelly Olynyk scored 26 points to lead the Celtics reserves, who outscored the Wizards bench 48-5 in the series finale.
After the game, despite his own struggles, Wall showed his hurt and frustration with his second unit just as he boarded the team bus.
“Forty-eight to five,” Wall muttered per Jeff Goodman of ESPN. “Forty-eight to five. Our bench had five points.”
Wall’s frustration was symbolic. No the Wizards bench did not have just one bad game. They had a horrible season. As the Wizards starters ranked second in the NBA in net differential efficiency during the regular season, its bench ranked 29th out of 30 teams. That narrative did not change in the playoffs, as Washington’s starters rank fourth and its bench ranked 13th out of 16 (worst in the Eastern Conference).
In all honesty any teammates that heard Wall’s mutters could not be offended or even contest its leader’s chastising. The Wizards bench was awful, and that’s being kind. If the Wizards are to get to the next level and play a playoff series beyond May 15, they’ll need a better effort from its supporting cast surrounding Wall and Beal. And embattled general manager Ernie Grunfeld needs to start with having an adequate backup point guard that can spell Wall more than a measly four minutes when he is needed most.