Bradley Beal Says What We Are All Thinking After Ugly Loss to Knicks | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Bradley Beal Says What We Are All Thinking After Ugly Loss to Knicks

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Updated: March 26, 2018

I’m tired of talking about this shit. It’s just the same thing over and over.

— Bradley Beal

On one hand, it’s nice to know that the players feel the same way fans do after watching another ugly, uninspired loss. On the other hand, the players are the only ones who can actually prevent such losses from happening in the future, and they seem just as perplexed as the fans do when it comes to solutions for accomplishing that.

Scott Brooks talked before the Knicks game about needing to come out with energy and effort – two things Washington has lacked during their recent two-game (now three-game) losing streak. The message didn’t register.

Washington sleepwalked through the first six-plus minutes of the game, scoring just six points over that span. The Wizards would have been in a bigger hole if not for a cavalcade of missed layups, unforced turnovers and clanged jumpers from New York. Things worsened in the second quarter when the Knicks scored 42 points — their second most in a quarter since 2012. New York’s leading scorers during that decisive stretch: Luke Kornet (eight points), Troy Williams (seven points) and Emmanuel Mudiay (seven points). Not exactly a murderer’s row.

The play-by-play will show that Washington made a run in the second half, even taking a one-point lead with a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter. But that late-game rally only made the eventual loss that much more frustrating, which was punctuated by back-to-back poor decisions by Kelly Oubre in the final minute.

With Washington leading 95-94, Otto Porter grabbed a rebound off a Michael Beasley miss and kicked it ahead to Satoransky to start a fast break. Tomas spotted Oubre alone in the corner and advanced the ball to him. With 47 seconds left in the game, 19 seconds still on the shot clock and no one within 10 feet of him, Oubre, who was 0-for-5 from long-distance at that point, shot an uncontested 3-pointer. It missed.

To his credit, Oubre raced down court to defend the ensuing Knicks fast break. Unfortunately, he fouled Trey Burke on his way to the basket for an and-1. Brooks called both those mistakes “teaching moments” after game 73.

The rest played out like most recent late-game finishes for Washington. Beal missed a short jumper, Gortat missed a point blank tip-in, then New York hit enough of their free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.

Which brings us back to Bradley Beal. He was frustrated and dejected in the post-game locker room, and it showed in his candid comments.

What did you think of the team’s urgency?

“We acted like we didn’t give a damn, honestly. We just thought we could show up and play because they didn’t have anything to play for. So we just thought it was going to be a cake walk and they smacked us in the mouth.”

What about the Knicks 42-point second quarter?

“Unnacceptable.”

How does this keep happening?

“I wish I could tell you. Especially at this point in the year. I don’t know. What are we nine games away now?”

What is the mentality of this team and how can it change?

It’s us in this locker room. Coach preaches it every single day but until we do it individually and together collectively, we are going to get our ass kicked in the playoffs. This isn’t even remotely acceptable how we are playing right now because we are playing like we are going to be done on April 11th, April 12th.

The game against the Knicks was supposed to be a celebration of the Washington Bullets 1977-78 championship team. Instead, it was just another reminder of the shortcomings of this Wizards roster.

Where Do The Wizards Go From Here?

The Wizards are in sort of a regular season purgatory right now. They have (basically) clinched the playoffs and their only real goal in terms of playoff seeding is avoiding the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. Given the packed Eastern Conference standings, that means Washington could theoretically be better off as a No. 7 seed than a 5 or a 6.

Home court advantage will always be a siren song, but the loss to the Knicks leaves the Wizards two and a half games behind both Indiana and Philadelphia and four games behind Cleveland with only nine games remaining. Washington would have to surpass two of those three teams to grab home court. Given the Sixers’ ridiculously easy remaining schedule, any hope for starting the playoffs at home seems lost.

Here’s the good news: This Wizards team that is limping toward the finish line will (hopefully) look completely different when the playoffs begin. John Wall practiced for the first time on Saturday and suffered no setbacks. He is scheduled to practice again on Monday and Wednesday this week. Based on an educated guess, if Wall continues to avoid setbacks, he could return on Saturday at home against Charlotte.

Assuming he is able to play 30-plus minutes per game once the playoffs start, Washington will enter the postseason with the most depth and firepower they have had all season. Every second that Ramon Sessions has played the last two weeks will go to Wall. Satoransky will be shifted to the second unit and can hopefully create more scoring opportunities than the all-bench unit has mustered as of late. The late-game offense, which has devolved into a predictable pattern of a tired Beal pounding the rock for 20 seconds then forcing a jumper, will become a bit more diversified and Washington’s fast break points should increase.

When the playoffs begin on April 14th or 15th and the Wizards’ first-round opponent is finally revealed, these head-scratching losses will likely be forgotten. Washington’s core group has shown over three different playoff runs that they are able to compartmentalize the regular season and lock in when the real games begin. Washington has won all three 4/5-seed playoff series during the Wall/Beal era and have only been eliminated by No. 1 seeds.

This team will not be scared to line up against Boston, Philadelphia or Indiana in the first round — even without home-court advantage. The only boogeyman out there is the perennial Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers. Whether they admit it or not, the Wizards do not want to see their old nemesis in the first round. However, this brings us back to the Wizards being in purgatory. Even if Washington wanted to take steps to avoid Cleveland, short of intentionally losing the rest of their games and falling to No. 7, the path is unclear. If the season ended today, the Wizards would face the Cavs in the opening round in the 3/6 match-up. However, with Philadelphia’s easy schedule and an April 6 showdown between the Cavs and Sixers looming, Philadelphia could easily cruise into the No. 3 spot.

It’s easy to surmise that the uncertainty of playoff seeding, coupled with the anticipation of Wall’s return, has contributed to Washington’s lackluster play of late. It’s not an excuse, but at least it’s an explanation. I’m guessing the players will be just as excited as the fans to put this regular season behind them in a few weeks. Hopefully Wall will be ready to join them.

[Scott Brooks watching John Wall warm-up before March 25, 2018 New York Knicks game. Photo – A. Rubin]

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.