The Washington Wizards lost to the Miami Heat 122-95 on Friday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
The Wizards in recent years have never been mistaken for a consistent team, often following their best moments with their most frustrating defeats. The extremes to which they have done that lately, however, might be new territory.
After beating the Nets last weekend, they stepped on a rake against the Blazers. Then, after beating the Heat with their best defensive game of the season on Wednesday, they played the same Miami team and got completely embarrassed from the opening tip.
The Wizards were blasted by 27 points and trailed by as many as 37. It was an ugly loss and one that just makes you scratch your head when you consider they beat the same team in the same building just 48 hours earlier.
Washington is now 2-2 in their last four games, which on its own makes it seem like things are starting to even out. But given the highs and lows, the Wizards do not exactly seem stabilized right now.
Maybe it's just the modern NBA where all the threes lead to lopsided games. But the next step for the Wizards as they try to piece their season back together is to find some semblance of consistency from game to game.
Beal was shut down
The Heat came out with a very clear strategy to stop Bradley Beal from scoring at all costs. Right from the beginning, they overloaded on him with double and triple teams. They blitzed him on the perimeter and forced him to catch a lot of his passes several feet beyond the arc.
For the first time in what seems like a long time, Beal had a lot of trouble scoring. In the first half, he had only four points and went 0-for-12 from the field and 0-for-5 from three. Per ESPN, that tied O.J. Mayo for the most attempts in a half without a make.
Beal ended up with seven points, his lowest scoring night since 2018. That ends his streak of 25-point games to begin a season at 17.
It was also the worst shooting game Beal's ever had with at least 10 attempts. At 1-for-14, he shot 7.1 percent.
Beal has become such a good scorer, and so accustomed to special treatment by defenses, that he usually always has a counter. But credit to head coach Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat for figuring him out on this particular night.
Adebayo and Nunn were too much
The Wizards couldn't get their offense going, but their defense wasn't great, either. They allowed 40 points in the first quarter and had 106 entering the fourth. By then, both teams emptied their benches and called it a night.
Miami was able to build such a big lead mostly thanks to Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn catching fire in the first half. Adebayo was an absurd 11-for-11 from the free-throw line in the first quarter alone. He had 21 points, four rebounds and two blocks despite never getting to the line again.
Nunn came off the bench and had 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting. He was relentlessly attacking the rim and no one on the Wizards could stay in front of him.
Bertans showed some life, then sat
Davis Bertans was one of the few Wizards players to get his shots to fall early. He came in and knocked down two quick threes in the first half on plays where the Wizards made the extra pass and found him wide open. That seemed to get him into an early rhythm, though the Wizards went away from him as the game devolved into a blowout.
Perhaps that was due to him being a defensive liability, or his conditioning which remains a work in progress, but he also gives Washington the potential for microwave scoring, which comes in handy when you're down big. Despite all that, he only played 16 minutes.
Either way, Bertans (9 points) going 2-for-2 from three is a good sign given he was shooting just 22.2 percent from long range in his previous four games.
Len has been solid
Another one of the few positives from this game was the impact Alex Len continues to make down low. He was pivotal in the win on Wednesday and followed that up with 18 points, five blocks and two steals.
Len has proven to be a good find for the Wizards, who desperately needed help at center with Thomas Bryant lost for the season with an ACL injury and Moe Wagner recently missing weeks in Covid-19 protocol. He can rebound, is a decent finisher around the rim and in this game showed he can provide some resistance in the paint.
Tune into NBC Sports Washington at 12 p.m. Sunday for full coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Charlotte Hornets.