The Washington Wizards lost to the Boston Celtics 107-96 on Friday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. As bad as things have seemed at times for the Boston Celtics this season, as disappointing as they have been compared to their preseason expectations, they are still in an enviable spot in the eyes of many teams. That includes the Wizards, who put up a fight on Friday night but were ultimately outdone due to a deficit in talent and a slew of timely mistakes.
The Wizards started and finished poorly, and it cost them. They outscored the Celtics 61-52 in the second and third quarters, but were outdone 55-40 in the first and fourth.
Turnovers were a major issue. The Wizards had 18 of them and the Celtics cashed those in for 24 points. Washington also shot 26.3 percent from three and that didn't help.
The loss stopped short what could have been some momentum from the Wizards' win over the Nets on Wednesday. But now they have lost 10 of their last 14 games overall. Just when they could be making a playoff push, they are fading fast.
2. Bradley Beal had the best month of his career in February and he picked up right where he left off in March.
Beal was brilliant against the Celtics, scoring inside and out and with efficiency. He put up 29 points on 52.2 percent shooting with 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.
Beal dissected a very good Celtics defense and did so after getting pushed around early by Marcus Smart. Boston tried to bully Beal, but he stood up to the challenge and eventually broke through with a big night.
All year Beal has shown the ability to counter defenses, even when they overload to stop him. Even against one of the best defensive teams in the game, he can still get his.
3. As Beal was tearing it up, NBC Sports Boston analyst Brian Scalabrine joined the NBC Sports Washington broadcast and dropped a take that set social media ablaze. Basically, he said the Ray Allen comparisons for Beal do not go far enough. He sees a lot of Kobe Bryant.
Yes, the White Mamba said Beal is like the Black Mamba. And that is quite the praise.
Scalabrine added some specifics about how Beal can get his shot consistently with smooth moves off the pivot and with turnaround fadeaways. Sure, in that regard he's like Bryant. But let's be clear, comparing Beal to Allen is already a nice compliment. He has some work to do to get in Bryant's realm.
There has also been a lot of talk about Beal and All-NBA. It will be tough, but he does have a chance. There are probably four locks at this point: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard. But for those final two spots, Beal is probably in the mix with Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons as the likely favorites.
If Beal were to get All-NBA, he would qualify for a supermax contract. A lot of money is on the line, and if he were to qualify for such a deal, it would have huge repercussions for the Wizards, who already have John Wall signed to a supermax.
4. And we thought the start of the Brooklyn game on Wednesday was bad. This time, the Wizards came out playing even worse.
Washington didn't make a field goal until the 6:15 mark of the first quarter. They trailed by as many as 15 points in the frame.
But, just as they did against the Nets, the Wizards stormed back. They took their first lead with under two minutes to go in the first half and outscored the Celtics 25-19 in the second quarter to get back in the game.
Starting slow was a huge problem for the Wizards earlier this season. If you recall, it was fixed in large part due to the promotion of Thomas Bryant to the starting lineup. Now, he's back on the bench and they are coming out sleepy.
Coincidence? Maybe not. His energy certainly seems to help set a tone early in games.
5. This was another one of those games that reminded us that Troy Brown Jr. has the talent of a first round pick.
Though he seldom plays, Brown often does at least something to impress when he gets the opportunity. In this game, he made a few plays that make it worth questioning why he doesn't have a consistent role in the rotation.
Brown came in midway through the first quarter and promptly knocked down a pull-up jumper in Jayson Tatum's face. He continued to look the part running the Wizards' offense with crisp passes and decisive ball-handling.
Brown made one play in particular that looked well beyond his 19 years. He used a hesitation move to get to the rim for an and-1.
Brown finished with seven points, four rebounds, a steal and a block. He is going to make his share of mistakes, but it's not like the rest of the Wizards' rotation is playing perfect basketball. Brown should get more run, especially if the Wizards slip further in the standings.
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