John Wall pulls back offense, embraces set-up man role

John Wall pulls back offense, embraces set-up man role
April 28, 2014, 11:30 am
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(Associated Press)

None of John Wall's postseason performances has been jaw-dropping, but he has been the consummate point guard against the NBA's best scoring defense.

Again, Wall showed a steady hand in posting 15 points and 10 assists but he only had two turnovers in Sunday's 98-89 victory in Game 4 that gave the Wizards a 3-1 series lead going into Tuesday's potential clincher at United Center (CSN, 8 p.m. ET).

In the Wizards' previous game, a 100-97 loss, Wall had just one turnover. When a reporter referred to Wall as a game manager, coach Randy Wittman agreed. A lot. 

"That’s a good word. That’s the exact word I just used in there with the team. I think this series he’s managed the game," Wittman said. "He understands who needs the ball, where they need it, who has got it going, where to attack and be aggressive himself and then the most important thing for us, against this team, is taking care of the ball.

[MORE: Ariza drops 30 points as Wizards dominate Bulls]

"When we have six turnovers for the game, and two in the second half, if we can get a shot every time down the floor, I’ll be really pleased with where we are at in the game. Tonight, he’s done a really good job with the organization of it. It starts at the other end with him. Picking up the pressure bleeds down on our guys. He’s done a nice job.”

Trevor Ariza scored 30 points, a career playoff high, thanks to Wall's ability to read the landscape. After Jimmy Butler successfully picked off his passes to the corner for three-point looks in Game 1, Wall has figured it out: Make the "hockey" assist to the low post, and when the Bulls start to rotate to cover that the corner reads will open again. 

"We’re just taking what the defense gives us, me just trying to attack and sometimes they give me the layup and I take it, if not, I pass to the big man," Wall said. "The big man makes the play and I think it just helped us a lot of just getting in transition and just getting easy looks early on.” 

Wall realizes that the way the Bulls defend him -- forcing the ball out of his hands -- won't allow him to get the staggering numbers that will draw him rave reviews on this national stage. But when the Wizards unraveled at the end of Game 3, the All-Star continued to own his shortcomings even if it wasn't all his fault. That's leadership. It's something that Wittman has impressed upon him all season when he cited Wall for "counterproductive" play

"I just didn't do a great job of getting my team moving in the third quarter," Wall said after Game 3. "Was keeping the ball too stagnant."

Still, Wall has been spot on in three of four games against the Bulls. That's not half-bad. Win now, look good later.