Whether it was simply just an off night or not, there's no question Bradley Beal wasn't himself in the Wizards' Game 2 loss to the Celtics on Tuesday night. Beal scored 14 points, but shot 4-for-15 from the field, 1-for-9 from three and set a playoff career-high with six turnovers.
It was one of the worst games of Beal's career and it included an open look in the final seconds of regulation, one he missed badly. His performance also came at an unfortunate time, as now the Wizards face an 0-2 deficit against the Celtics.
At Wednesday's practice at the Verizon Center, Celtics forward Jae Crowder shared some insight into how they were able to limit the Wizards star.
"I just feel like once we hear his sets being called, I just think our awareness on his play-calling is very high. Every guy on the court is on a string with him," Crowder explained.
"We had a lot of different guys guarding him... We're contesting every jumper that he shoots. Just trying to make it as tough as possible for him because we know he can get it going. Just keep getting different bodies on him, not letting him get open looks and not letting him feel comfortable."
Crowder's coach, Brad Stevens, thought the Celtics may have gotten lucky on a few of Beal's shot attempts. He can usually make you pay for mistakes that Stevens believes they made.
"He missed a couple of shots that he won't miss tomorrow, that we've gotta do a better job on. Specifically, the transition shots," Stevens said. "We're trying to make it as hard as possible. He's an excellent player. He's a great cutter. I think he's one of the best cutters in the league. He's great of hand-backs, he's great off pindowns, he's great off flares. You just have to guard him as hard as you can for as long as you can. Try to make it as tough as possible. He's a heck of a player."
Wizards coach Scott Brooks also thought Beal missed a few he would normally make.
"Brad had an off shooting night. He’s going to have that. He’s had a great year, he’s had a great postseason and he had a good to great first game," Brooks said. "I’m not going to say he didn’t play well. He just had a bad shooting night, and that’s going to happen. We have to figure out ways to get him cleaner looks and cleaner screens where he can get free."
Brooks acknowledged the Celtics took a physical approach to Beal. Between Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, they have two strong guards who can bump opponents out of their comfort spots on the floor. Beal at times during Game 2 complained to refs about contact, but Brooks says Beal needs to play through it.
"Whether they’re putting their hands on us or not, they’re not getting called so it’s not illegal. I’m always from that school. one of my favorite coaches would always tell me it’s not a foul unless they call it. we have to be able to handle that and manage that and execute what we need to do," he said.
Beal shot just 26.7 percent from the field in Game 2, but in his other seven games these playoffs he shot a solid 46.3 percent. In eight total postseason games, however, he has shot just 27.5 percent from three. Long range shooting is his biggest asset and so far he has not been able to provide that in the playoffs.