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Wall: Wiz not playing up to potential in opener

From ESPN - April 16, 2018

TORONTO -- John Wall leaned back in his seat on the Toronto Raptors' old practice court, sunglasses on and looking relaxed.

Despite the fact that the Washington Wizards trail the top-seeded Raptors 1-0 in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference series, Wall remains confident that the Wizards played far from their best basketball in Game 1, a 114-106 victory for Toronto.

What the Wizards' point guard does not know is when his All-Star explosiveness will return after missing two months because of knee surgery. But he's certain he can still show what he can do, even if he's not at full strength.

"I think I am there [speed-wise but] just having explosion, and being very explosive and those types of things, that is what I am still working on, to get my legs back underneath me," Wall said Monday. "But other than that, just from me being out there and to do the things that I am doing without being at 100 percent shows what type of player I am."

Playing in just his fifth game in a two-week span after returning from knee surgery, Wall collected 23 points, 15 assists, four steals and two blocks in 39 minutes on Saturday. He shot just 6-for-20 for the game and was limited to one assist and five points while shooting 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter. And he had five turnovers, a couple of which left him frustrated well after the game.

Wall and the Wizards know they have to be better in the fourth quarter in Game 2 on Tuesday night. Fellow All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who logged a career-high 36.3 minutes this season while trying to keep the Wizards afloat with Wall out, was held to two of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.

"We feel like we did not even play our best basketball," Wall said. "We did not shoot the ball well from 3, they shot over 50 percent and we still gave ourselves a chance to win."

"I basically got whatever I wanted," Wall added of how he felt Toronto defended him. "I missed a couple of easy shots, a couple of easy layups. I felt like I got fouled on some of them. Some of them I still have to make those. Other than that, I got everything I wanted. I got shots. I got shots for my teammates. Other than a couple of careless turnovers that I had I was frustrated with, I got everything I wanted."

The Wizards understand that Wall is still making his way back to the level he was at last postseason, when he averaged a dominant 27.2 points, 10.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks in 13 games.

"I think he is there," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Wall's speed. "... When you miss nine weeks of the season, late in the season and come in and out of the lineup in the last six or seven games, it is not ideal, but he fights through it and does not make excuses. Not a lot of guys could have done what he has been able to do. There's probably some rust that still needs to be taken off, but overall, some of his turnovers, I know that those are things that he will be able to clean up and get better as the series goes on."

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