D.C. Council Preseason Game 3: Wizards 100 vs Heat 82: Bradley Beal Goes Presidential | Truth About It.net

D.C. Council Preseason Game 3: Wizards 100 vs Heat 82: Bradley Beal Goes Presidential

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Updated: October 16, 2013

The D.C. Council Wizards game coverage from Truth About It.net is back for another season. Some tweaks have been made, some tweaks probably will be made as the regular season approaches, and obviously, this thing could use a new design (which is forthcoming). Until then, TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks), who covered the Wizards-Heat game from the Verizon Center, and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It), who watched the contest on the boob-tube, will take you through key accounts of the game and also rate the performances of several Wizards. Leggo…

Washington Wizards 100 vs Miami Heat 82
[box score]


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Key Legislature

(The game’s defining moment.)

When asked whether this game felt like it had the atmosphere and intensity of a regular season game, Trevor Ariza answered in the affirmative: “Yes, definitely. Hopefully next time we play them it could be like a home game for us, instead of an away game at home. It was cool, though, glad the fans came, supported us, or whoever they supported.” I asked Ariza if he heard any of the paltry boos which cropped up after protracted cheers for a LeBron dunk had been echoing in the Verizon Center for far too long. Ariza’s response? “I didn’t hear no boos tonight, I didn’t hear anything.”

Despite playing without the support of the home crowd (free Chick-fil-A set the high-water mark for home fan involvement), the Wizards performed like many, including myself, hoped they would. Especially in the last two minutes of the second half, when it mattered most, when Miami’s starters were still in the game, and when this preseason matchup most resembled a high-pressure, regular season contest against a very, very good team.

Here’s the important bit: after two “I’m LeBron f’ing James” dunks in a row (one a pretty reverse, one an oop slam from Bosh), which put the Heat up 43-38, the Wizards took a 20-second timeout with 3:04 remaining in the first half. When the game started again, the Wizards’ best two players played the parts of stars to the letter, matching the chutzpah of Miami’s “Mega Three” step for step, and even outplaying them down the stretch.

It started in earnest on a driving layup and-1 for Beal after a fluid pass from Wall. Then Wall took a charge from Wade. On the next play, Beal drove hard to the basket, releasing a driving bank-shot just before defenders arrived to prevent the score. Ten seconds later, Wall picked off a Mario Chalmers pass, tossed the ball to Beal, and let Beal sling it to Ariza for an emphatic slam. The reaction from Wall after Ariza’s dunk put his stake in the game on display: he … was clearly excited. After the Heat responded with a Wade oop from Lebron James, the Wizards stole a halftime lead through an increasingly common method: John Wall broke down his defender at the top of the key, pulled help defenders toward him, and with slightly more than one second remaining, fired the ball to Beal for buckets of the 3-point variety.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

Council Chair

(The most valuable player of the night.)

Over the first couple of preseason games, Bradley Beal proved that he could still shoot. In his third preseason game, Beal proved that he could be a headliner. Against the King and his Heatles, even in ‘just a preseason’ game, Beal was downright presidential.

He hit 3s with ease, even some to beat a buzzer, and he proved that his improvement off the dribble over the summertime was the real deal. Check the Vine, he certainly got Dwyane Wade with some behind-the-back sweetness. Beal also seems especially better at putting defenders on his shoulder, and not necessarily trying to get to his spots with quickness, but rather with force.

Beal did fire a heat check, and perhaps forced his own action instead of keeping the ball moving once, but that’s kind of what the Wizards are desperate for: someone with a natural ability to make jump shots who can also score off the bounce. Let’s not get too excited, but if Beal continues to progress at this rate, he could be an All-Star before John Wall.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)

Vetoed Participation

(The least valuable player on the night.)

You know how Martell Webster’s ability to shoot consistently (44-percent) from the 3-point line has caused Wizards’ fans to (kind of) forget about the days of Nick Young’s inconsistency? Glen Rice’s ability to score on offense, while playing hard on defense, along with Eric Maynor’s ability to (sometimes) to get to the rim, have seemingly rendered Garrett Temple’s skill-set null and void. In 16:40 of backup point guard time, Temple went scoreless on just two shot attempts with two assists and two turnovers. He could not shake Norris Cole no matter how many change of direction dribbles he utilized, he did nothing to distinguish himself from Eric Maynor, who sat with a sore Achilles, and Temple just might be in danger of not making the final roster. [Ed. Note: of course, Xavier Silas isn't exactly knocking at the door to be the third-string PG. —KW]

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)

Top Aide

(The top assistant, or x-factor.)

This game was a “best-case scenario Al Harrington” special. Harrington was the definition of an “x-factor” off the bench, doing a little of everything and contributing most where he makes his money, by making 50 percent of his 3-pointers (3-for-6 on the night), grabbing four rebounds, and even showing the clichéd veteran savvy as he distributed the ball to open shooters. What may have been most impressive about Harrington is that despite reports of the deleterious effects of injuries on his ability in the last few years, he was adaptable on the court, far from the Brian Cooks of the world. On one of his 3-pointers, Harrington took an awkward pass from mere feet away at waist-height and had it up and out of his hands before I could manage a cringe.

After the game, Harrington was interviewed on the court, and displayed another impressive trait, something the Wizards front office is only just starting to understand matters: he praised Bradley Beal in a way that only a long-time veteran can do. When Harrington reveals that he’d been in Bradley’s ear to tell him how “special” he was, it makes one wonder who, if anyone, has been providing that kind of confidence-building reinforcement from a successful veteran for the Wizards’ other young players in the last several years. The youth must be served, it’s true, but they don’t always know how to eat.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

That Session Was … Encouraging.

(An overall assessment of the outcome.)

At the conclusion of Tuesday night’s game, LeBron James correctly observed that football and basketball both have meaningless preseasons, because teams are focused on working on their offensive and defensive sets, rather than their winning the games. The starting units for the Brooklyn Nets, the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat—the Wizards’ first three preseason opponents—all performed like well-oiled, playoff-tested machines, while for the most part the Wizards resembled the young team that they are. They turned the ball over, they looked tentative, and the offense lacked the cohesion that Wall claimed was evident in summer workouts.

But from the start of the third quarter to the 5:16 mark, when Jan Vesely and Norris Cole entered the game for their respective teams, it was the Wizards “starters” (Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin aren’t likely to get starting nods when the season starts) versus the Heat starters, and the Wizards outscored the champs, 14-6. Bradley Beal led the way during that stretch with eight points and an assist, but the other four starters did their part as well. Wall pushed the tempo, Booker was active on both ends of the floor, Seraphin actually attempted to go to work in the post, and Ariza had two assists, one of which led to a breakaway dunk for John Wall. The Wizards also were more active on defense, and they did just enough to disrupt the rhythm of the Heat’s offense—something that both LeBron James and Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra made note of after the game.

“That team has quick hands.” —LeBron James

“It became more challenging to defend them  as they were moving the ball, and we weren’t moving the ball so it was easier to defend us.” —Erik Spoelstra

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)

The Mayor

(Words of wisdom, etc., from Coach Randy Wittman.)

Experimentation: two parts injury, one part mystery, three parts “this just might work,” and the rest pure #WittmanFace.

So, Trevor Ariza started over Martell Webster again. I am pretty sure Wittman knows that the Wall-Beal-Webster trio was part of one of the best lineups in the NBA last season. Pretty sure, even though the three played precious little together against the Heat. After early problems with scoring production, coach Wittman countered with “small ball” lineups which seemed to throw the Heat off for just long enough to allow the Wizards to gain confidence and start playing well. Then again, unless Wittman decided to play Pops Mensah-Bonsu more than the 3:53 he collected in the game, there weren’t many non-small-ball lineups available. His post-game press conference seemed to confirm that sentiment: when asked about utilizing small lineups, Randy just shrugged and began to answer with “Yeah…”

Kevin Seraphin was bad, very bad, and was the recipient of pointed berating during a timeout after Wittman watched Seraphin get double-teamed and lose the ball out of bounds. Going forward without Okafor, it is going to be a struggle to cook-up lineups that hide the flaws of Seraphin and Vesely, which are many. One thing Wittman tried on the night was playing Ariza at power forward.  The Wizards may have their hands full against teams with big bodies no matter their lineup choices: Chris Bosh had five rebounds in the first quarter, compared to two from Trevor Booker and none from Seraphin.

It’s becoming clear that the Wizards will play their starters longer into the game than anyone else will in preseason. At a certain point, it became uncomfortable. Wall was in the game late into the fourth quarter. Then, Glen Rice Jr. came up limping from a fall, and instead of pulling Rice, Wittman snapped Wall right on out of there.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

The Players

John Wall

3 out of 5 stars

31 mins | 13 pts | 6-15 FGs | 1-3 FTs | 8 asts | 5 TOs | 5 ST

Bullets Forever’s Mike Prada suggested that John Wall was treating presason like his personal laboratory, while I found myself wondering why Wall did not look as ready as Webster and Beal seemed to be. There were times when Wall made the perfect pass, and there were times (like the 3-pointer he made over LeBron James to start the game) when his shot looked fluid and in rhythm. But there were also turnovers and too many instances when Wall would simply put his head down, ignore the two or three Heat defenders, and fall just short of making a layup. That will be unacceptable in year four. —R.M.

Bradley Beal

5 out of 5 stars

31 mins | 29 pts | 10-15 FGs | 4-8 3PTs | 5-5 FTs

If Marv Albert had been calling last night’s game, he’d have observed that Bradley Beal showed his full repetoire. He curled off screens, he pump-faked and took a dribble in for a better shot, he drove the lane with bad intentions and drew fouls, and he scored on the fast break. And on a night when no other Wizards player (except Al Harrington) demonstrated any fluidity on offense, Beal took it upon himself to be the alpha male, especially in the third quarter. After the game, both Erik Spolestra and Ray Allen—the player Beal is most compared to—had nothing but good things to say about him:

“He’s a heck of a young player. The biggest thing with him was being healthy and getting reps. Once he was able to get his reps and gain his confidence, he’s a got a very good skillset and his shooting stroke looks great for a young player … it feels like he can shoot from 35-feet and have the same form.” —Erik Spolestra

“He had great lift on his shot tonight, and the team moved the ball extremely well and found him every opportunity that they got, and he made us pay for it.” —Ray Allen

R.M.

Trevor Ariza

3 out of 5 stars

29 mins | 13 pts | 4-12 FGs | 2-5 3PTs | 3-4 FTs | 9 reb | 5 asts | 2 TOs | 1 ST

Starting over Webster once again, Ariza’s shot wasn’t there early in the first quarter, as he seemed to be a little slow to get into place beyond the arc while his teammates drove or passed around the perimeter. Traces of Disruptariza were still there, though, especially on a pass deflection in the first quarter which drew a foul on LeBron, who struggled to regain possession against the fleet-fingered Wizards forward.

Any lethargy in Ariza’s step was erased once he came back into the game in the second quarter. A corner 3-pointer with 7:14 remaining in the second quarter on a Wall dime, a tip-in and a dunk later in the half … Ariza effectively masked the “real” frontcourt’s inability to grab rebounds consistently. On picking up the slack for the absent Nene and Okafor, Ariza said, “It’s something we have to do collectively as a team, with Mek being down and Nene being down, and tonight I did focus on that a lot.” —C.D.

Trevor Booker

3 out of 5 stars

15 mins | 8 pts | 4-5 FGs | 5 reb | 1 BS | 0 TOs | 2 ST

Booker loses a star here because he couldn’t seem to stay on the court in the first half. With two fouls in the first six minutes, and then another a few moments after returning to the game, Booker allowed minutes to trend the way of Jan Vesely and Al Harrington, both of whom played more despite coming off of the bench.

When he was in the game, he was effective. His first basket of the game came on a spin, followed by a back-to-the-basket power move, where he was able to get separation from his defender and hook in a shot. Overall, Booker was efficient, and unlike Kevin Seraphin, actually went after rebounds, both on the offensive and defensive side. —C.D.

Kevin Seraphin

0 out of 5 stars

21 mins | 2 pts | 1-6 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 1 reb | 2 TOs | 1 BS

With Nene still suffering from the preseason doldrums, Kevin Seraphin—much like Garrett Temple—had the chance to prove he belongs in Coach Wittman’s rotation. Seraphin took that opportunity, drove it in the ground, and made me wonder if he even deserves a roster spot. Seraphin has an inch and 30 pounds on Udonis Haslem and 30 pounds on Chris Bosh, and he only mustered one rebound, ZERO trips to the foul line, and just one single impressive post-up that resulted in a score. To put that in perspective, Roger Mason, Jr., who has never averaged more than three rebounds in his career, pulled down seven rebounds in just 26 minutes of play. So just to recap: Okafor is hurt, Nene is whiny and disinterested, Vesely continues to look overmatched and Seraphin just doesn’t seem to have the goods consistently. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Wizards frontcourt. —R.M.

Al Harrington

3.5 out of 5 stars

17 mins | 14 pts | 5-9 FGs | 3-6 3Ps | 4 rebs | 2 asts | 3 TOs

Harrington hit his first 3 as a Wizard (went 0-3 vs. Brooklyn, didn’t play vs. Chicago), and then hit a couple more after that. He looks healthy, he looks mobile, and I won’t let this guy’s tweet rain on the parade just yet. —K.W.

Glen Rice

3 out of 5 stars

16 mins | 8 pts | 2-3 FGs | 4-4 FTs | 2 rebs | 1 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 1 TO

Rice continued to be a sparkplug and turned in an especially efficient night, including a block that showed the willingness to make the extra effort. The good thing about Rice’s situation, I’m prognosticating, is that his talent won’t necessarily be relegated to the bench when the real games start. Who else is going to best backup Bradley Beal? —K.W.

Martell Webster

1.5 out of 5 stars

24 mins | 5 pts | 1-6 FGs | 1-6 3Ps | 5 rebs | 2 asts | 2 stls | 2 TOs

I don’t remember Webster missing all of those shots, but nothing I see out of him concerns me, at least in terms of what we know about his game. He also found a way to fill up the stat book. I would like to see how he fares with the starters, but otherwise will continue to look for evidence of improvements to his game (i.e., ball-handling) made over the summer. —K.W.

Jan Vesely

0.5 out of 5 stars

25 mins | 2 pts | 1-1 FGs | 0-2 FTs | 5 rebs | 5 fouls

Relegated to the bench in favor of Trevor Booker (Wittman was going to tinker with the non-Okafor starting 4 in his rotation, anyway), Vesely did nothing to suggest he should earn his starting spot back. He once made a nice, aggressive move to the basket past Udonis Haslem, got fouled … and missed both FTs. He sometimes moved his feet well on defense, but spastically collected fouls. He got a dunk off a nice pass from Al Harrington. It was vintage Honza. —K.W.

Visuals.