Basketball

Gators in the NBA: Week 3

Photo by Barry Chin / Getty Images

Bradley Beal is doing everything in his power.

Unfortunately, he’s on a horrible defensive team.

Beal (guard, Washington Wizards) leads his squad with 28.1 points per game. That’s sixth in the NBA.

The two-time All Star’s scoring prowess has led the Wizards (2-7) to an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of fifth (111.1) in the Association, but their defensive rating (115.4) is 29th out of 30 teams.

That’s why when Beal dropped 44 points on a decent defending team in the Boston Celtics, it wasn’t enough. Washington fell 140-133 to Boston on Wednesday in lieu of an incredible performance by its best player, who added five rebounds and six assists to his statline. Beal also committed only one turnover and had a steal to make up for it.

With the extensive absence of John Wall, Beal is evolving as an all-around scoring threat. With Wall, he was thought of more as a shooter, a guy who could spread the floor while the speedy point guard drove to the cup. Now, Beal is doing most of his damage in the paint.

Against the Celtics, Beal was 10 of 12 from inside nine feet, making eight baskets within five feet or less. He also went 4 of 6 from deep, improving in an area he’s uncharacteristically struggled this season.

While he’s hitting only 32.1 percent of his threes, Beal is up to 43.4 percent in field goal percentage for the year, and he’s hit 48 percent of his shots over the last three games.

We’re seeing another All-Star, possibly an All-NBA, season from Beal. Hopefully, Washington will increase its effort level on the defensive end to capitalize on its high-level scorer.

Al Horford (center/power forward, Philadelphia 76ers) hasn’t had nearly as much trouble winning as Beal, but his ballclub did drop to 7-4 after playing five games in a week.

The tiring stretch was a little frustrating for the five-time All Star, who only scored in double digits twice and only rebounded in double digits once. He also sat out in a one-point win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.

Horford went 5-for-18 shooting (2 of 8 from three) on Wednesday night in a tough 112-97 loss at the Orlando Magic. Horford had a (-9) plus/minus in Orlando.

The 76ers will play two more road games (Oklahoma City on Friday, Cleveland on Sunday) before getting two days of rest and returning home to play the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

It has also been a pedestrian week for Dorian Finney-Smith (forward, Dallas Mavericks), whose team went 2-2 over the last week (6-4 overall).

Smith had a solid 11 points against the Memphis Grizzlies in the Mavs’ 138-122 win, but he failed to score in double figures in the week’s other fixtures.

Smith averages 7.9 points per game, but he has become a fixture in the Dallas starting lineup because of his rebounding (5.5 per game, fourth on the team).

He averaged just 3.75 rebounds over the last four games, so he’s due for a big night, as the Mavs will grace Madison Square Garden tonight for a nationally televised game with the Knicks.

Note: Chris Chiozza (guard, Washington Wizards) and Chandler Parsons (forward, Atlanta Hawks) did not play over the past week. Chiozza played in Washington’s first two games, while Parsons has yet to make an appearance for Atlanta. It is likely the emergence of veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas for the Wizards is a major factor for Chiozza’s hiatus.

Mark Stine is a contributing writer for Chomp Talk. Follow him on Twitter @mstinejr.

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