How ’bout it?
After dropping two straight preseason games, the Washington Wizards returned home to the nation’s capital tonight against the defending champion Miami Heat. Needless to say, the Wizards played their best game thus far and ultimately stunned the Heat by 18 points behind Bradley Beal’s miraculous effort. Here are tonight’s Bullet Points:
- Nene is still in Brazil for personal reasons, and head coach Randy Wittman opted to start Trevor Booker along side Kevin Seraphin instead of Jan Vesely. Booker played as he did during his rookie season, when he became the team’s heart and soul, scoring 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in just 16 minutes of action. More importantly, Booker held his own and provided the energy Washington will need off the bench once the regular season begins. Hopefully he continues trending upward.
- On the flip side, Kevin Seraphin looked awful tonight. He still looks clueless underneath the basket, especially when double teammed. Seraphin supposedly worked on his game during the offseason, but I haven’t seen any sort of improvement in his game. In fact, he continues to make the low-IQ plays that he made last season. Washington needs to see some consistency from Seraphin, especially since he’s entering the last guaranteed season under his current contract.
- Randy Wittman continued to start Trevor Ariza despite Martell Webster’s showing during the preseason, but he played much better than what we’ve seen in the past two games. Ariza knocked down two shots from beyond the three point arc, and led all starters with in rebounding with 9. Washington embraced the small ball lineups tonight, and it was especially successful with Ariza on the floor. I’d expect the coaching staff to utilize the smaller lineups more often.
- Al Harrington and Glen Rice Jr. continued to provide the scoring spark off the bench that the Wizards desperately needed. Harrington knocked down 3 of his 6 attempted threes, and Rice chipped in with 8 points on just 3 field goal attempts. Washington may have found their answer off the bench if both players continue to score the ball at this level. Harrington simply knows how to score the ball and it will undoubtedly become valuable for the Wizards, especially if they continue to experiment with small lineups in the future. I’m convinced Harrington has the offensive tools to become this year’s Martell Webster.
- Now on to the real reason everyone has gained optimism for this season: John Wall & Bradley Beal looked absolutely amazing. John Wall’s shot didn’t fall early on, but that didn’t discourage him from attacking the basket and taking the open shot when necessary. More importantly, Wall looked great defensively and was able to get 5 steals just off anticipation. Most of his 8 assists came from Bradley Beal, who played like an All-Star caliber guard tonight. Scoring 29 points on just 15 shot attempts, Bradley Beal has added multiple dimensions to his game during this offseason and it’s certainly paying off. Beal knocked down 4 three point shots tonight, scored off the dribble and got to the basket with his improved ball handling. Beal’s ball handling was probably his biggest weakness heading into the season, but every game it continues to look tighter and more crisp. There was a sequence where Beal completely blew by the Heat defenders to drill a tear drop runner in traffic. We’ve never seen Beal play with a more polished game, and I believe we’re witnessing Bradley Beal 2.0, or so I’d like to call it.
- Tonight’s wonderful box score.
It’s a great day to be a Washington Wizards fan.
Despite their awful start to the preseason, tonight’s game gave us hope for what’s to come once the regular season begins. The Wizards took advantage of their practice time in between Saturday’s game in Brazil and it’s definitely payed off. Virtually everyone who stepped on the floor looked more focused on both sides of the floor, and I commend the coaching staff on their efforts. Both Bradley Beal and John Wall looked spectacular, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
Washington’s next preseason game will be this Thursday in Baltimore where they’ll meet Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.