Basketball

Gators in the NBA: Week 4

Photo by Stephen Gosling / Getty Images

Why do teams continue to play man on Bradley Beal?

The man is getting to the rim much too easily.

Beal (guard, Washington Wizards (4-8)) continued to score at an All-NBA level through Week 4 of the season, and he’s now averaging 30.3 points per game.

The two-time All Star dropped back-to-back 40-point performances at the Boston Celtics (Nov. 13) and at the Minnesota Timberwolves (Nov. 15), and he followed them up with 34 points in Orlando and 33 points at home against the San Antonio Spurs. He led the struggling Wizards to two wins in those matchups.

Just to put into perspective how ridiculous of a four-game tear that is, Beal hit 59 percent of his shots and averaged 24.8 shots.

This is all because he’s getting within five feet of the hoop (averaging 14.5 two-point attempts for the year) and exploiting opponents in transition. His gravitational pull in the paint has opened up pick-and-roll play and open three-pointers, allowing him to assist teammates 6.7 times per contest.

He’s also getting to the line at an elite level (7.0 free throws per league, 11th in the NBA).

Beal will look to feast once again on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets (6-9), who has the fifth worst defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) in the Association (112.2).

Al Horford (forward/center, Philadelphia 76ers (9-5)) is fitting in nicely with his new team through 14 games. The big man is scoring at his highest rate (14.4 points per game) since 2015-16 when he was still with the Atlanta Hawks (15.2). That average is good for third on the squad.

He’s also thriving as a passer, putting up 4.0 assists per contest, second only to Ben Simmons.

In a fixture with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Horford had well balanced night on both ends, scoring 11 points, assisting seven teammates, grabbing six rebounds, blocking 2 shots and snagging two steals.

Up next for Horford, another lackluster defensive opponent in the San Antonio Spurs (5-10) (28th in defensive rating, 114.0).

Speaking of the Spurs, Dorian Finney-Smith (forward, Dallas Mavericks (9-5)) had a career-high 22 points at home against San Antonio on Monday. He was an efficient 3 of 4 from three and 8 of 10 from the floor, benefitting from Luka Doncic’s 42-point triple-double.

Finney-Smith is now fourth on the Mavs in scoring (8.8 points per game) among players who have played in more than one game.

Udonis Haslem (forward, Miami Heat (10-3)) made his season debut on Nov. 12 in a nine-point win over the Detroit Pistons. Haslem is in his 17th season (age 39), and he recorded two points, two rebounds, two turnovers and two fouls in nearly five minutes of action.

Chandler Parsons (forward, Atlanta Hawks) also proved his existence by logging 2:29 of play against at the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, his inaugural appearance of the year. He did not record a stat other than minutes played and a -10 plus/minus.

Note: Chris Chiozza (guard, Washington Wizards) did not play over the past week. Chiozza played in Washington’s first two games, but the emergence of veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas for the Wizards is a likely major factor for Chiozza’s reserve status.

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