The Wizards handed a loss to one of the top teams in the NBA Sunday night, stunning the Nets 123-122 Sunday night thanks to a few brilliant plays by Bradley Beal down the stretch.
After an 0-5 start, the Wizards have now won two in a row with a tough stretch in front of them. Every win counts in the NBA, and this was a big one for Washington.
Going toe-to-toe with a title contender
The 2020-21 season didn't take long to humble the Wizards with an 0-5 start, but after a game like this, it's easy to regain your confidence as a group. Washington went blow-for-blow with an elite team and pulled out a win in the end, which could serve as a building block for this team moving forward.
The Wizards can seemingly play with anyone, and with the Sixers, Celtics, Heat, Suns and Jazz coming up over the next five games, having that confidence that you can, in fact, play with anyone should help them along the way.
Battle of elite offenses
The Wizards had some good moments on defense in this one, but when you're playing a team with the firepower the Nets have, you're not going to lock them down for a full 48 minutes.
Jerome Robinson and Deni Avdija, in particular, gave Scott Brooks some strong defense in this game. Avdija contained Irving well on a few switches and even blocked the superstar scorer on one occasion, while Robinson defended with great energy following a strong showing against Minnesota on Friday. Davis Bertans even flashed some great defense in this one.
Still, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant filled it up as they usually do while getting valuable spacing and three-point marksmanship from Joe Harris.
But on the flip side, the Nets couldn't stop the Wizards either. Bradley Beal finished with 27 points and stuffed the stat sheet, Bertans filled it up from deep while Thomas Bryant continued his strong start to the season with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Rui in the post
The Wizards did an excellent job exploiting mismatches in the post with Rui Hachimura. Whenever the second-year forward got Irving, Harris or someone like Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot on him, Washington was finding him for easy looks inside.
The Nets turned out to be a great matchup for Hachimura on the offensive end. If Durant wasn't on him, Hachimura either had a player too slow -- DeAndre Jordan, Jarrett Allen -- or too small to keep him away from the rim.
This could be a strategy for Brooks and the Wizards to utilize going forward. Hachimura's development in the post could force other teams to go with two-big lineups against him and Bryant, which could help offset some of his defensive limitations against quicker wings on the perimeter.
Winning the turnover battle
The Nets are one of the last teams you want to turn it over against and the Wizards protected the ball well Sunday night. They won the turnover battle 20-7, which alleviated the pressure on their defense against two nuclear offensive threats in Durant and Irving.
The Wizards have been around the league average in turnover percentage this season, but their depth at the guard position should eventually move them into the top half of the NBA in that regard. Fewer turnovers typically mean more wins, so the turnover battle should be an interesting area to monitor as Washington gets more games under its belt.
Russell Westbrook triple-double watch
Westbrook's four-game triple-double streak came to an end Sunday with a stat line of 24 points, five rebounds and 10 assists. Westbrook wasn't able to hit the glass as much in this game and it ended up costing him a shot at history. If he recorded another triple-double in this game, he would've become the first player ever to have a triple-double in the first five games of a regular season.
No matter, though. He'll have a chance to start a new streak Wednesday night against Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
Tune in at 6 PM to NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday for complete coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Philadelphia 76ers.