On Friday night, the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals series between the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards heads to D.C. for Game 3 with the series tied at 1-1. The Wizards have been a team on a roll this postseason, but their brightest star has been rather quiet as of late.
In the regular season, All-Star third-year point guard John Wall averaged a team-high 19.3 points, 8.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. His player efficiency rating (PER) of 19.6 was best on the team and he was the only Wizard to start, not just play, in all 82 regular season games.
Now that we’ve hit the postseason, however, Wall’s numbers have been on the decline. He’s averaging just 16.1 points per game and is shooting a mere 32-percent from the floor, including 16-percent from behind the arc. All three statistics are a far cry from the regular season where he averaged 43-percent from the floor and 35-percent from downtown.
When you break it down series-by-series, there’s a noticeable downward trend in some areas. After shooting 36-percent and averaging 18.8 points per game against Chicago, Wall is shooting just 22-percent and averaging 9.5 points against Indiana. He’s only averaging three rebounds per game, but to his credit his assists are up to 8.5 a game against the Pacers.
Where he has struggled to put points on the board, he hasn’t struggled to setup his teammates. Averaging 7.3 assists per game throughout the playoffs, Wall seems to share the ball best when his shooting is the worst. In his three worst shooting performances of the postseason (Game 4 against Chicago and Games 1 and 2 against Indiana), Wall is averaging nine assists per game.
It’s a testament to his selflessness and leadership, really, that a player that young in his first playoff appearance has the presence of mind understand when it just isn’t his night. However, at some point in their current series, it needs to become his night. Through two games against the Pacers, he’s just 6-for-27 with 19 points. Not to be overlooked, Wall is 0-for-7 from behind the arc.
Throughout the regular season, Wall was a player that Washington could rely on to carry the team when it was down. His ability to take over a game late and lead the Wizards to victory is what got them this far in the first place. It was much in part to his 24-point effort in Game 5 against Chicago that won them the game and the series.
Washington has proven that there are other players that can step up when Wall is having trouble scoring, but eventually that will come back to be the Wizards’ demise. While he is certainly doing a great job directing the offense and leading the team, at some point does Wall need to have a break-out 20-point game for them to advance to the conference finals.
Since being drafted first overall in 2010, Wall has been the leader of the Wizards and deserves much of the credit for their success. If they want to continue their success in the postseason, he’ll need to break out of the shooting slump he currently finds himself in. Should he do so, Washington has the ability to put away Indiana in a big way on Friday night.