The Washington Wizards season, along with the rest of the NBA, has been put on hold for at least 30 days due to the spread of the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find out what might’ve happened in postponed games. In an effort to see how Wizards games could have played out, I started a season on NBA 2K20 for the PlayStation 4 video game console. This also will simulate the results of other games to determine how the final playoff picture could shake out.
The Wizards entered Wednesday’s game with an undefeated record against the Brooklyn Nets this season after beating them twice at Capital One Arena in February. Now the Wizards were tasked with getting a road win against the Nets, something that has proved difficult for them no matter the team. Rookie Rui Hachimura rose to the occasion and scored a career-high 33 points to lead Washington to a 129-121 victory.
With the win, the Nets’ lead over the Wizards for eighth place in the Eastern Conference is down to just four games. Washington also notched back-to-back road victories for the first time this season and its first overall three-game winning streak.
The Wizards are 3-1 in simulations and this game was easily the most competitive from start to finish. Washington did build a double-digit lead at several points throughout, but Brooklyn always bounced back with a run of its own. Caris LeVert gave Bradley Beal fits all game, scoring a game-high 37 points to keep his team in it. The game was never in hand until it was.
Washington Wizards 33 28 34 34 
Brooklyn Nets 30 30 27 34 
Rookie Rui Hachimura set the tone early with 14 first-quarter points pic.twitter.com/uh3CJBvM8y— Prince J. Grimes (@pgprincej) March 18, 2020
Top Performers - Wizards
Rui Hachimura: 33 Pts (15-20 FG), 7 Reb
Bradley Beal: 30 Pts (11-28 FG), 5 Ast
Ish Smith: 16 Pts (7-8 FG)
Top Performers - Nets
Caris LeVert: 37 Pts, 6-11 (3-pt FG)
Spencer Dinwiddie: 27 Pts, 12 Ast
DeAndre Jordan: 23 Pts (11-13 FG), 15 Reb, 7 Blk, 3 Stl
Bradley Beal has been quietly subpar during Washington’s winning streak. He’s scoring a lot of points but not shooting the ball very well. That continued in this one, with his effectiveness being limited in quarters one, two and four. As a result, the total score of those quarters was a wash -- one point differential. The third quarter is where the Wizards won this game -- outscored the Nets 34-27 -- and not coincidentally, it was Beal’s best quarter. He scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting and was +7 in the period, despite a -11 overall for the game.
Bradley Beal finally decided to show up in the third quarter pic.twitter.com/xKoq4i0wkh— Prince J. Grimes (@pgprincej) March 18, 2020
Point Guard Play
Ish Smith provided a scoring punch off the bench that was absolutely necessary whenever Hachimura and Beal were off. He controlled the pace, slowing the game down with Washington’s studs off the court and providing timely baskets when others struggled to get free. Smith tied Jerome Robinson with a game-high +15. Starting point guard Shabazz Napier has been the unsung hero of this winning streak, recording double-digit assists in each game. He did it again against the Nets, this time with 12. He was also a major factor in pushing the pace for the starting unit. Washington outscored Brooklyn 36-17 on fast break points.
Hachimura was truly unstoppable from the opening tip. He gave Wilson Chandler, and anyone else who tried to guard him, fits on the low block. The rookie scored 14 of his 33 points in the first quarter to help Washington keep up with Brooklyn while LeVert was going off (16 in the first). This was his second career 30-point game, as he scored exactly 30 on the road against the Clippers on Dec. 1.
Hachimura scored a career-high 33 points and was named Player of the Game pic.twitter.com/5WlGZdrfq7— Prince J. Grimes (@pgprincej) March 18, 2020
Next Game: The Wizards finish up their East Coast road swing Friday in Atlanta. If they can push the winning streak to four games, playoff expectations ramp up a bit.
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