Washington Wizards: Inconsistency vs. Miami Heat tells the story of the season

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Jimmy Butler. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Jimmy Butler. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Just when you think you have these Washington Wizards figured out, they surprise you. For better or for worse. Usually for worse.

Knowing which Washington Wizards team we’ll see on any given night has become a guessing game. No pair of games this season better illustrates the inexplicable ups and downs of this season like the team’s last two games: a 103-100 win over the Heat followed by a 122-95 loss to the Heat.

In the Wizards’ first two games vs. the Heat this season, things were pretty close. A late fourth-quarter rally in January couldn’t save the Wizards the first time out, but some tough defense secured the win in the second matchup. Two days after putting the clamps on Miami and holding them to 35 second-half points in a win, the Wizards had no answers for the Heat. Despite the Wizards regaining Russell Westbrook from game one to game two and the Heat losing Avery Bradley, the Wizards turned in one of their worst performances of the season and missed a chance at winning three of their last four games.

Three wins in four games isn’t the most impressive winning streak. In fact, it’s not a winning streak at all! But after 19 games, the Wizards are 5-14 and haven’t had more than two consecutive wins this season. Any cluster with more W’s than L’s would be welcome.

But the Wizards can’t seem to do that. They haven’t been helped by their myriad of injuries or their two-week layoff due to health and safety protocols. It’s the inconsistency that’s killing them.

One night, they’ll take a game vs. the Philadelphia 76ers (the best record in the East) down to the final possession or two, only to get blown out by the Orlando Magic or Chicago Bulls. They’ll take down juggernauts like the Brooklyn Nets one night, only to come out flat vs. a short-handed Portland Trail Blazers team. They can shut down the Heat and only allow 35 second-half points in a win, only to surrender 40 points in the first quarter to the Heat in their very next game.

The Wizards’ inability to stay consistent this season has been maddening. But their fall from grace in game two of this mini mid-season series with the Heat was made even more depressing. Against Miami, the one thing that has been consistent for the Wizards this season — Bradley Beal — wasn’t.

After starting the season with 17 consecutive 25-point games, the longest such streak since the NBA-ABA merger, Beal was held to just seven points in the loss. That is the fewest points Bradley Beal has scored since December 23, 2018, when he had seven points vs. the Indiana Pacers. Beal’s streak of 20-point games was also snapped at 40, just two shy of Walt Bellamy‘s franchise record of 42.

February will be a make-or-break month for the Wizards. dark. Next

Miami’s strategy was obvious: Anybody but Beal. And it worked. 95 points are the second-fewest the Wizards have scored the season and their fewest when not dealing with a shortened roster due to health and safety protocol. We probably won’t be seeing many more single-digit performances from Beal, but we certainly haven’t seen the last of teams throwing everything at Beal. This was supposed to be the season when things weren’t going to be all on his shoulders. Scott Brooks hasn’t seemed to do anything that would make things easier on Beal, though. As presently constructed and coached, this team is only going as far as Beal can carry them. Miami reminded us of that in a major way.