The Big Picture
The Wizards had a 2-2 split this week, which is ok, because they played some dang fine teams. With a lineup of the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks (without Gianes, but still), and the Toronto Raptors, many likely expected Washington to lose out this week, but thanks to stellar play from our remaining all-star Bradley Beal, the Wizards are only 2.5 games out of the playoffs.
Right now Beal and co. are crossing the Atlantic for a bout with one of the NBA’s worst in the New York Knicks. After that they play the annual home game on MLK day against the Detroit Pistons who sit directly above them in the eastern conference standings. These next couple of games are a good chance for the Wizards to finally gain some ground in putrid middle group of the eastern conference.
The Last Week
L @ PHI 132-115 (1/8)
I think Landry Shamet got mad the Wizards cut fellow Wichita State guard Ron Baker the day before this match up. The 28th draft pick had a career day with 29 points going 8-14 from deep, joined by the Sixers big three Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Jimmy Butler, the Wizards were run out the building in the second quarter. Philly caught fire with a 16-0 run and was up 23 points at the half. Bradley Beal had no scoring help in this game until well into garbage time.
There were very few positives in this one. Really the only one I can think of is the bench guys got some extended run. Troy Brown, Devin Robinson, and Chasson Randle all saw double digit minutes (which really gives you an idea of how out of reach this match was by the 4th quarter). Randle was impressive going 4-7 from the field and 2-4 from three for ten points. Overall though, this was not what we wanted to see after a fantastic showing in OKC.
W vs. PHI 123-106 (1/9)
One of the things I truly don’t understand in the NBA and NHL is these back-to-back games against the same team in different locations. In minor leagues and baseball I understand that there are a lot of games and it just doesn’t make sense to move around as much, but in the two winter leagues this happens for seemingly no reason, I just don’t get it.
Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal combined for the Wizards first 19 points of the game as the squad ended the first quarter with a 25-20 lead. Washington would explode out of the gate in the second with a lead that extend to 20 at one point thanks in large to a flat dominating performance to eastern conference player of the month candidate Bradley Beal. Philly would claw back into the game a little bit, but similar to yesterday’s game, the second quarter would kind of be it.
Thomas Bryant didn’t play much in this affair, after getting in foul trouble early in the first quarter, he didn’t remerge until the 3rd where he was fantastic. The stat line doesn’t do him justice, but Bryant did a great job limiting Joel Embiid. I don’t know what changed since last night, but this was one of the better all around games the Wizards have had this season.
W vs. MIL 113-106 (1/11)
This win comes with an asterisk. Of course it’s great that Washington took down yet another top tier NBA opponent, but on the other hand the Bucks were missing a top three player in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nevertheless they certainly aren’t a pushover without number 34, they also feature several high quality players such as Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and Malcolm Brogdon, this win required strong performances from several Wizards.
The Wizards rushed out the gate with a 40-26 lead after the first quarter thanks to the backcourt efforts of Sato and Beal. Without Giannis the Wizards assaulted the rim and ran like mad men in transition. The Bucks started to claw back in the 2nd quarter thanks to turnovers from Washington, the lead was flat out under siege. Thankfully the Wizards were on FIRE from three, they tied a franchise record with 18 from deep, and some late threes were enough to bury the Bucks.
Tomas Satoransky was a great all around asset, recording his first career triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Pieces have started to pop up all around the sporting interwebs about his underattedness, let’s hope we can keep him this summer. Bradley Beal has been superb over these last few games and this one was no exception as he led the team in scoring with 32 points on 11-21 shooting while adding 7 assists and 5 boards. Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green both added 20 and knocked down key late game shots. This was a true “everybody eats” type win for Washington.
2OTL vs TOR 140-138 (1/13)
This was a game for the ages, Bradley Beal vs Kawhi Leonard in a duel of the should be all-stars. Seriously if Brad isn’t on an all-star roster at this point it will be one of the biggest stubs I can remember. Part of me wants us to trade Brad while his value is peaking, but the other part of me wants to slap myself because he is our homegrown star and has been fantastic.
Before this turns into a Bradley Beal gush of an article some other Wizards deserve some nods. Thomas Bryant was once again quietly efficient going 8-13 with 18 points and 11 rebounds, Trevor Ariza was one rebound short of a triple-double with 23 points. Otto Porter was a beast off the bench bringing 27 points and 7 rebounds to the party, he truly has thrived in a bench role.
Now the Bradley vs Kawhi mega matchup. This was not supposed to the marque super national attention game that it became. Nonetheless, Brad had 43 points, 15 assists, and 10 points while extending the game twice with two game tying baskets to push the game into overtime, and then double overtime. Words can justify how epic this game was, go look at highlights on YouTube. GO!