No rest for Wall, Beal as Wizards prep for playoff push

No rest for Wall, Beal as Wizards prep for playoff push
February 18, 2014, 6:00 am
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Bradley Beal has two goals over the next 36 hours: Help the Washington Wizards defeat the Toronto Raptors and sleep in his own bed.

The game versus a fellow Eastern Conference challenger begins the post-All Star break schedule and truly starts the playoff push.

The game also takes place on Tuesday. Snoozing on Monday night after a whirlwind trip to New Orleans comes first.

"I didn't even get to sit in my bed today," said a smiling, but drained Beal following Wizards practice on Monday evening at the Verizon Center. "Got off the plane and I had to go right to practice. It's a busy life, but hopefully I'll get a lot of rest tonight."

The 20-year-old returned to D.C. earlier in the day after spending the previous four in the Crescent City along with backcourt partner John Wall. Beal played in the Rising Stars Challenge, reached the finals of the 3-point contest, posed for many pictures, signed many autographs, attended many events.

Wall shared in many of those around-the-clock activities when he wasn't winning the dunk contest or playing in the actual All-Star game.

"I'm ready to go back home and get back in my bed," said the weary traveling point guard. "It felt like we we're on a West Coast trip. A lot of stuff to do, but it's a great opportunity and a great experience."

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It's wise for Beal, Wall and their teammates to get in eight or so hours of sleep overnight. The playoff sprint truly starts on Tuesday.

The Wizards (25-27) entered All-Star weekend having lost of four five including the last two. Currently sixth in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards next face teams immediately ahead of them in the standings. Washington hosts the Raptors (28-24) on Tuesday, then travels to face the Atlanta Hawks (25-26) on Wednesday.

Though the Wizards are in good position for the franchise's first postseason appearance since 2008, they're not home yet. Washington sits 2 1/2 games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats (23-30), who currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot. Sitting in the ninth, the Detroit Pistons (22-30) are three back of the Wizards.

Then of course, there is a matter of seeding. Essentially every team in the East wants to avoid finishing in the seventh or eighth slot because they want to avoid first round playoff matchups against either the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat.

Asked about the message from the coaching staff at practice, Beal said, "We got to pick it up. There are only 30 games left. We talked about seeding. We know we're going to be a playoff team. In order to do that, we have to win games for one. Two, we have to focus on winning every game. It's always tough to win games, but at the same we know seeding is very important for us."

One key to the seeding end game, winning tiebreakers against other potential playoff teams, Toronto and Atlanta included.

"We're 0-2 against Toronto so tomorrow is definitely a must win," Beal continued. "Against Atlanta, the same thing. We're 1-1 against them. We got to be on our toes and be ready to go and hopefully get off to a great start for the last 30."

Wizards head coach Randy Wittman, who said he spent the break in warm Miami, shares the big picture sentiment with his starting guard. He just doesn't apply extra weight to any specific opponent. After witnessing his squad rise up for big challenges and take a step back against undermanned squads this season, he hopes the players grasp that approach.

"It doesn't matter who we're playing," Wittman said. "You can win these two and take games off somewhere else and it's going to cost you the same. You don't look at who [the opponent] is. ... There are eight weeks and it's over. We've got to come out of the gate ready to go."

First, get some sleep.