Over the weekend, Bradley Beal had the best two-game stretch of his career so far with 40-point games on consecutive nights. On Monday, he has the chance to provide an encore, again in front of home fans at Capital One Arena.
This time, however, Beal and the Wizards will be facing a much tougher line of defense. He will now take his shot at the Utah Jazz (7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), who are by many measures one of the very best defensive teams in the NBA.
Utah comes to town ranked fourth in points allowed (106.4/g) and third in defensive rating (105.8). They allow the second-fewest threes (9.9) and three-point attempts (27.9) per game.
Beal has done much of his work the past two games on the perimeter. He made seven threes against the Hornets on Friday and a career-high nine threes against the Grizzlies on Saturday.
Utah has been elite at locking down the three-point line this season. Guards Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio, and forwards Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder, can cover a lot of ground as a group.
The Utah defense, though, is anchored in the middle. Rudy Gobert, the 2017-18 defensive player of the year, is having another dominant season with 2.3 blocks per game and a career-high 12.9 rebounds.
The Jazz will make it tough for Beal and his teammates with disciplined, physical defense in the backcourt and one of the game's best rim protectors backing them up. Monday could provide Beal one of his best challenges of the season.
He has proven able to adapt to opposing defenses and find a way to score, whether that be by making outside shots, ones in the midrange or attacking the rim. The Jazz will likely be able to take away some combination of those avenues.
The Wizards have lost four straight games against the Jazz and Beal has struggled in their match-ups. Though he has averaged 20.8 points during that stretch, he has shot just 28 percent from three.
The Jazz may be one of the NBA's top defenses, but they have given up their fair share of big scoring games this season. Eight players have scored 40 on them in 2018-19, including Derrick Rose who dropped 50 back in October.
If Beal were to go for 40 for the third straight game, he would set a franchise record. That won't be easy to do, especially against the Jazz. But, as this weekend showed, Beal is on a different level right now.
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