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Bradley Beal's defense continues to frustrate Kyle Korver


Bradley Beal's defense continues to frustrate Kyle Korver

Based on the way the playoffs are going, it's probably a good time to resurrect the discussion of where the Wizards rank among NBA backcourts. While 2014-15 MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are deservedly called the future, John Wall and Bradley Beal can't be quickly discarded as afterthoughts any longer.

Curry and Thompson are struggling and trailing the Memphis Grizzlies 2-1 in their Western Conference semifinal. The Wizards dominated supposedly an equal or better backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan by sweeping the Toronto Raptors and now are giving the Atlanta Hawks' Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, both All-Stars, fits.

It's probably safe to say that Korver, the NBA's best three-point shooter coming into the postseason, is sick of seeing Beal who is proving that he can consistently be the two-way player for the Wizards in this second-round series with the Hawks.

Korver has been a non-factor, unable to free himself from Beal who is able to still get his shots. In a 103-101 Game 3 victory for the Wizards on Saturday, Korver played 37 minutes and only attempted five shots. His two made field goals came on second-chance points from offensive rebounds by Atlanta. 

"It's tough. He's got to play against a guy that moves around like Korver does," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said after Sunday's practice. "But he's done a great job, staying aggressive at both ends. It gets harder and harder the farther you move along."

Korver was matched up with Beal for 9:32, and he was 1-for-4 for just three points, according to the NBA's SportVU player tracking data.

And consider that Beal is doing this after rolling his troublesome right ankle so badly in Game 1, when he led all scorers with 28 points, that he left the court in the fourth quarter in tears. And without John Wall, who fractured his left hand and wrist and has missed the last two games and is unlikely to play again this series.

"Don't let my face fool you now. It was tough," said Beal of chasing around Korver after Game 2. "I was trying to do whatever I could. It wasn't easy. A lot of treatment the last couple days but I was out there, no excuses."

These difficulties for Korver shouldn't bee too surprising as there was ample evidence in the regular season. There he shot 1-for-7 and 0-for-4 though Atlanta still won those games. He's 11-for-31 in this series for 35.4%. Otto Porter and Garrett Temple, lanky, long, defense-first players, have contributed to the poor shooting, too.

"Brad, myself, Otto, we've been watching a lot of film on him and understand where he likes to get to his spots, and we just try to do a good job of topping him, sending him away from the screens, getting them out of their sets in terms of denying him wing passes and stuff like that," Temple said. "The bigs have done a great job as well when he comes off the curl, the bigs are there to help and we're helping the helper. We've done a great job of being aware of where he is. He gets a lot of his points off transition."

Beal sets the tone with how he starts out on Korver. Even without Wall, the Wizards have the tools to keep Teague contained, out of the paint and smother his ability to kick the ball out to Korver spotting up around the arc.

"This team is beatable,' said Beal, who tied a career playoff high with seven assists in Game 2 and surpassed it with eight in Game 3. "We feel like we're the better team."

[RELATED Bradley Beal's thoughts on Jeff Teague? Not a fan

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Game: TV and live stream info, rosters, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is here with the annual showcase set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)



Coach: Dwane Casey, Raptors
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Bradley Beal, Wizards
Goran Dragic, Heat
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Paul George, Thunder
Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Kemba Walker, Hornets


Coach: Mike D'Antoni, Rockets
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets
Joel Embiid, 76ers
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Draymond Green, Warriors
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Al Horford, Celtics
Damian Lillard, Blazers
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves


Three things to watch...

New format

The NBA switched it up this season by doing away with the traditional matchup between the East and West. The teams were instead chosen by captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the two top vote-getters in All-Star fan voting. The idea was to breath new life into the All-Star Game and hopefully make it more competitive. The league also installed a system where the winners each get $100,000, $75,000 more than the losing team. 

All pro sports leagues struggle drawing interest with their All-Star showcases. They are always trying to get ratings up and this is the latest ploy by the NBA. The new format is definitely intriguing, but whether it will have a major impact on the competition itself is hard to tell. We'll see how the fans respond.


Reunion time

The teams picked by James and Curry will give fans some throwback combinations with former teammates back together again. Team LeBron is full of them. James will reunite with Kyrie Irving, who essentially forced his way out of Cleveland over the summer after the two combined to reach three straight NBA Finals and win one title.

We will also see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook play together again. They of course teamed up to win a lot of games with the Oklahoma City Thunder before Durant signed with the Warriors. Westbrook will also be reunited with Victor Oladipo, who was traded from OKC to the Pacers over the summer.


Beal's All-Star debut

Wizards fans will of course be focused on Bradley Beal, who is making his first All-Star appearance. He is Washington's lone representative, as John Wall is still recovering from left knee surgery.

Beal may not get many minutes on a stacked roster of guys who have been in the game before. If that happens, it's probably for the best. Beal is currently fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. He needs the rest if he can get it.


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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest, Donovan Mitchell wins dunk contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.


Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest. He edged Larry Nance, Jr. of the Cavaliers in the finals.