Being down 0-3 in a playoff series is unfamiliar territory for Bradley Beal, so much so that after the Wizards' Game 3 loss to the Sixers on Saturday night, his facts were off.
"I was just thinking about that in the locker room. I’ve never been down 3-0. It’s tough, obviously. You don’t want to give into what the record says. You just want to continue to take it a day at a time. The positive of it is it’s happened before, it’s happened in history. In a lot of ways that uplifts me, it keeps me positive," he said.
Actually, it hasn't happened before, at least not in the NBA. Teams in MLB and the NHL have stormed back from down 0-3 to win a seven-games series, but it's never been done in the NBA.
Don't tell Beal that. He should believe that it's possible because technically it is. It would just be extremely difficult to pull off, especially against the top team in the Eastern Conference. If a five-seed has never come back against a four-seed down 0-3, you can imagine how the odds are lowered when it's the eight-seed playing the one-seed.
The Wizards, though, have grown accustomed this season to doing things they were told couldn't be done. Few thought they could rally to make the playoffs when they were 15 games under .500 on April 5. They not only qualified for the play-in tournament, but as the eight-seed. And after losing the first game of the play-in tournament, they responded to the threat of elimination with a blowout win to make the playoffs.
About an hour after Game 3 ended, Beal said he was still processing the plight of being down 0-3. But what he was sure of was how he will approach Game 4.
"I’m a huge fan of the word ‘embrace.’ Embracing everything, embracing the stage, just in life embracing every situation that you’re in. It’s the same thing with this. Embrace where we are," Beal said.
"My message is embrace where we are. It’s adversity and it’s a tough team we’re playing. But every day we have a day to win, we have a chance to win. Tomorrow starts with our preparation to win and our gameplan and how we can get better."
Beal framed part of his message in the context of young players appearing in their first playoffs. This is Beal's ninth season and his fifth time being in the playoffs, but several key members of their rotation have never been here before, guys like Rui Hachimura and Daniel Gafford.
While they are just figuring things out on the playoff stage, many on the Wizards have been here before. Russell Westbrook, for instance, has been in many playoff series, enough to know what it's like to be the Wizards right now as well as what it's like to be the Sixers, aiming to close a team out.
"I need to make sure the team understands it’s one game. You can’t win four games in one night. We’re home, we need to take advantage of that," Westbrook said.
The Wizards will host the Sixers on Monday with their season on the line. They made it this far by overcoming a lot. Now they will aim to keep it going for at least a little while longer.