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Film study: How Bradley Beal set a career-high with 42 points

Film study: How Bradley Beal set a career-high with 42 points

Bradley Beal had his career-high of 42 points against the Phoenix Suns, with 26 of those points coming in the second half: It's the way he did it that made his performance so special. He made five three-pointers, nine two-pointers and nine free throws.

He even put forth a better effort on defense compared to how he played vs. the Miami Heat on that end. Yesterday, film study was all about John Wall's defense. Today is about how Beal created his offense and the role his teammates, namely the screening of Marcin Gortat, had in helping him. And Beal didn't have a turnover in 40 minutes of play.

Sure, Phoenix isn't considered a good team defensively, but the Miami Heat are exactly that. They have a defense-first coach in Erik Spoelstra and Beal dropped 34 on them in a loss the previous game. Beal took 26 shots, shot 46%, including four threes, and was 6-for-6 from the line. Perhaps the best defensive center in the game, Hassan Whiteside, was in the middle for Miami so that argument doesn't hold water.

Beal was special vs. Phoenix. A snapshot of what he did well with most of the focus on the fourth:

Second quarter

-- 3:57-3:52: The high screen and roll by Marcin Gortat frees Beal from Brandon Knight, and Alex Len sinks way too deep into the paint. Talk about a practice shot, this one is it. That’s too much cushion for a shooter but Beal has been so good attacking off the dribble he'd have his way with Len if he gets too close.

Third quarter

-- 5:02-4:55: Defended by Devin Booker, Beal gets three screens, a pindown from Kelly Oubre, a cross screen from Tomas Satoransky (then he pops to the arc to make himself available for the pass/shot) and another from Gortat whlile Wall dribbles up top. Beal loops around Gortat's screen. Knight and Booker, however, botch the coverage. Knight, who seems intially confused on if thery were supposed to switch, should’ve trailed which would've given the Suns support on the baseline to seal off the penetration. Len comes over as does Knight to run off Beal from the same angle. This allows Beal to attack in a straight line off the dribble and he draws the foul on Booker for two free throws.

-- 2:55-2:50: Satoransky inbounds the ball to Beal, who curls around a screen from Gortat. Booker gets caught on Beal's left hip, unable to use the baseline as a second defender, and Beal correctly diagnoses that he has a straight line to the basket if he is decisive. He gets by Booker and to the spot at the rim before Len can help in time. Beal uses the rim as protection and gets the soft reverse lay-up.

Fourth quarter

-- 11:38-11:24: Defending Booker, Beal recovers after slamming into a screen from P.J. Tucker and contests at the point of release to force the miss. He doesn’t let Booker off the hook attacking him on the other end to draw the foul with body contact. Beal lulled the Suns to sleep before going into high gear. He gets his shoulders past Booker and there’s no help under the rim to stop him (Tucker is focused on Gortat trailing the play). This is a good IQ play.

-- 8:47-8:39: Beal embarrasses the screen-roll coverage here, taking a screen from Jason Smith and splitting the help of Alan Williams down the middle for a clear path to the hoop. Williams probably needed to make a contact show to slow down Beal but they never force him to break stride. Easy bucket.

[RELATED: Elite backcourt of Wall and Beal emerges for Wizards]

-- 7:41-7:28: Beal is defended by Leandro Barbosa, reversing around Gortat’s screen then he stops his roll to recereen – the proper read because Williams was so far back to defend the roll. Look where Williams is again as Barbosa gets creamed by Gortat. He’s at least two feet back the way Len played soft coverage. It's a long two but what does it matter because that's a virtual layup for Beal.

-- 5:20-5:11: Wall entry to Markieff Morris who is being defended by Eric Bledsoe underneath on a switch off their screen-roll. Booker sinks in, Beal corner difts. Wide-open 3. Booker could've tried harder to contest.

-- 3:24-3:15: This is all Beal. He screens from Wall, runs off, reverses, gets screen for Gortat as Booker trails. His hesitation dribble sheds Bledsoe, freezes Len and he explodes past his help in middle for the layup.

This was a little bit of everything from Beal. He took what the defense gave him at times and at others he forced them into mistakes by constantly putting the pressure on them. Moving without the ball is key, especially with Wall on the floor because he'll command so much attention as the primary ballhandler. And as described here, more screen action by Beal will assist him in getting better looks and to the foul line because it can create even more mismatches on switches. 

This Beal is an All-Star. But can he maintain that with 69 games left in the season? That'll always be the question until he does it.

[RELATED: Film study: John Wall's defense]

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKING

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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USA Today Sports Images

Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS