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By the numbers: Beal's shot distribution takes wrong turn


By the numbers: Beal's shot distribution takes wrong turn

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.

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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.




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Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Rebounding issues arise again in Wizards' season opening loss to the Miami Heat

Realistically, the Miami Heat had no business even being in position to win on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

They shot just 39.2 percent from the field, compared to 46.9 percent for the Wizards, and had 19 turnovers. 

The Heat were on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost a tough one to the Magic the night before. They were missing a host of rotation players, including two of their regular starters.

Yet, the Heat pulled out a 113-112 victory to stun the Opening Night crowd at Capital One Arena simply because they out-hustled the Wizards. They out-rebounded the Wizards 55-40, including a 22-7 margin in offensive boards. Those 22 offensive rebounds were tied for the most allowed by the Wizards since 2012.

"Rebounding the ball is really why we lost the game," Wizards guard John Wall said. "That's really where they killed us."

Miami's advantage on the glass allowed them to put up a whopping 16 more shots. That led to 27 second chance points compared to just 10 for Washington.

It was the central theme of the game, so naturally it played a role in how it was decided. After Wall forced a miss by Dwyane Wade on a fadeaway attempt in the closing seconds, Heat big man Kelly Olynyk was right there to catch the ball and scoop it in for two.

That score proved to be the go-ahead points as just 0.2 seconds remained on the clock. All night, the Wizards made plays on defense, only to have the Heat save themselves with second looks.

The Wizards had no better explanation postgame other than Miami simply tried harder.

"They out-hustled us," forward Jeff Green said.

"Rebounds come down to whoever wants it the most and tonight they wanted it more than we did," forward Otto Porter Jr. said.

It sounds simple, and perhaps it was indeed that easy to explain. But there were other factors at play, some in their control and some not.

For one, the Wizards were missing their best rebounder, Dwight Howard, who sat out with a strained piriformis muscle. Even at 32, Howard remains one of the best rebounders in basketball and would have made a significant difference. 

It would have been nice to have him, a 280-pound giant in the paint to match up with Hassan Whiteside, one of the most physically imposing centers in the league.

With Howard out of the mix, the Wizards turned to Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith, but they each stumbled into early foul trouble. Head coach Scott Brooks had no other option than to go small with guys like Green and Markieff Morris at the five-spot.

Brooks wants to employ that strategy more often anyways, but not by necessity. And sure enough, it was Green and Morris on the floor when Olynyk broke loose for the final deciding play.

"The last rebound, we definitely need to put most of the ownership on me and Jeff because we were the biggest guys," Morris said. "I think that might have been the easiest layup of the game right there."

"I was surprised I was open," Olynyk admitted afterwards. "It kinda just popped open and I was kinda just standing right there."

Though many factors were at play, the Wizards' struggles rebounding the ball came down to the simple fundamentals of boxing out their opponent. As they learned last year, it's tough to be consistent when you can't take care of the little things that separate wins and losses.