With John Wall sidelined, Bradley Beal took on more play making responsibility in Game 2. He finished with a team-high seven assists.
But Beal also reverted back to taking more of those often ridiculed long twos and fewer shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Wizards need the full arsenal from their third-year guard in Game 3, especially when he's seeking his own points.
First, a quick stat comparison:
Regular season: 15.3 points, 13.5 field goal attempts (42.7 percent), 4.1 3-point FG attempts (40.9%), 2.6 FT attempts (78.3%)
Playoffs, Games 1-5: 22.2 points, 18.6 FGA (38.7%), 6.4 3pt FGA (34.4%), 7.0 FTA (80.0)
Playoffs, Game 6/Game 2 versus Hawks: 20 points, 8-22 FG (36.4), 2-3 3pt FGA (66.7), 2-3 FTA (66.7)
While his shooting percentages are down in the postseason, the attempts are up. As Washington's best pure shooter, this is a good thing. Aggressive Beal is desired, especially when he's firing from long range or attacking the rim. Send defensive help his way and the floor opens for Paul Pierce and Otto Porter on the wing or Marcin Gortat in the paint, not to mention Wall everywhere.
Taking a combined 7.7 3-point and free attempts per game as he did during the regular season isn't close to be ideal, especially for a player who shoots a strong to solid* percentage in both areas.
(*Beal has shot between 78.3 and 78.8 from the free throw line in each of his three seasons. That's remarkably consistent and also a bit lower than expected for a player with such textbook shooting form. Not saying he needs to sink 91.4 percent like Stephen Curry, but low 80's seems more than doable. Shoot 82.3 percent on four attempts per game (270 for 328) - which is still a modest number number of free throw tries and three below his average over Games 1-5 -, and Beal boosts his scoring by 3.29 points per game.)
Here's Beal's shooting chart over the first five games of the series:
Now the chart from Game 2 against the Hawks without Wall:
We didn't need the chart to see Beal taking fewer attempts from beyond the arc. As for where he attempted shots, note that the on the first chart the distribution is rather even between left corner/wing and right corner/wing. That generally matches the distribution of attempts during the regular season. For Game 2, Beal was a strictly left-side of the court kind of player. Credit Atlanta's defense*, but also note the absence of Wall, who is a virtuoso at finding his teammates in all angles with daring passes. Ramon Sessions played a quality game, but is ultimately rather basic is a distributor, which leaves Beal to largely fend for himself.
(*Specifically, credit the defensive effort from Kyle Korver on Beal. According to NBA.com, Korver defended Beal for 9:33 of Game 2. During those minutes, Beal went 1 of 8 from the field for three points, meaning he finished 7 of 15 for 17 points during the other 33-ish minutes he played)
Creating desired shot opportunities off the dribble is the next part of the 21-year-old's scoring evolution. Remaining assertive from all angles - especially from deep and on the drive - is what the Wizards need from Beal in this series.