Bradley Beal turned in a scintillating offensive performance, and his teammates scored efficiently as well, but the game played out as many Wizards games have this season. As good as they were on offense, they were worse on defense, and they lost in overtime to the Miami Heat, 134-129. Check out Diamond Holton’s recap, here.
After a slow start with multiple missed threes (he would shoot just 2-8 from long range for the night), Beal began attacking the Miami defense off the dribble. He ended up with 38 points on 16-24 shooting. He didn’t get much help from the refs — despite drawing frequent contact with defenders, he attempted just four free throws.
It was by far his best performance since returning from injury. He’s still playing with a sore knee and a sore shoulder, and he may have done something to his left foot as well. This is the kind of performance that keeps Beal in the conversation for All-Star and All-NBA honors.
It wouldn’t be a Wizards game without some coaching decisions worth second guessing. In particular, Scott Brooks gave crunch time minutes to Ian Mahinmi and Jordan McRae instead of Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr.
The point here isn’t that Bryant and Brown were playing better in this particular game (though Bryant was more productive per possession than Mahinmi), but rather the team’s long-term goals and plan for this season. Remember, this season isn’t about winning a particular number of games. The Wizards aren’t built to make the playoffs this year — they’re designed for flexibility in adding talent next season and to develop young and inexpensive players who might be part of the team’s future.
So, Mahinmi is having a decent season (the best he’s played since his last contract year), but he has no future with the Wizards. That means the Wizards gain nothing from giving him playing time in the crunch. In fact, they’re costing themselves because that’s a developmental opportunity for Byrant, who’s a decade younger and likely has a role with the team going forward. Yes, Bryant’s youthful mistakes and lack of defensive awareness may have cost them the game. But, a) they lost anyway, and b) tonight’s game could have been a chance for him to learn and grown into someone who can be relied upon when the team is actually playing for something.
On the positive side, I loved a sideline out of bounds play Brooks called for Beal late. Heat defenders had been in ball denial mode the previous several possessions. Brooks had Beal inbound the ball, approach Mahinmi as if he was going to take a handoff, and then backcut to the rim. He got a layup (it should have been a three-point play because Jimmy Butler hit him on the head) out of it. Excellent play design from Brooks and the coaching staff, and terrific execution from Beal and Mahinmi.
On the Heat side, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler were outstanding. Herro is an impressive rookie. He shot 7-9 from three-point range en route to 25 points. Butler has been excellent for a long time, but those who have watched his career have to be impressed with how much his game has grown. He had 10 assists tonight, and he’s averaging a career-high 8.9 assists per 100 team possessions.
In a previous lifetime, now-Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver formalized the factors that decide who wins and loses in the NBA. He called them the Four Factors (offense and defense). The most important factor is shooting from the floor, and the Wizards were outshot by the Heat, .606 to .571.
Rebounding was about the same and the Wizards won the turnover battle, but Washington’s excessive fouling gave the Heat 36 free throw attempts to the Wizards’ 20.
It’s remarkable that the Wizards allowed the Heat an offensive rating of 125 and it wasn’t close to being the team’s worst defensive performance of the season.
Wizards-Heat Four Factors
Player Production Average and Scoreboard Impact Rating
Player Production Average (PPA) is an overall production metric I developed. The single-game version is pace neutral and accounts for defense. It credits players for things they do to help a team win, and debits them for things that hurt. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better.
Scoreboard Impact Rating (SIR) translates overall production into points on the scoreboard in this game.
Wizards PPA and SIR
Heat PPA and SIR