Flashy Lebron dunks, starters playing over twenty minutes and a decently packed Verizon Center are all things you would expect to see in a mid-season matchup between the Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat. But on a beautiful Tuesday night in October in Chinatown, this was just a preseason matchup, and those in attendance could not have asked for more.
The big names were in the Phone Booth last night, but what was more impressive was who the big name was in the press after the Wizards defeated the Heat 100-82: Bradley Beal.
Beal finished the game last night with a career high 29 points, two assists, two rebounds and one steal. He went 10-15 from the field, sunk four three-balls and all five of his free throws, finishing +11 for the game.
While these stats may seem miniscule when looking at the fact that this was a preseason matchup, keep this in mind: Miami, whether they want to admit it or not, was playing to win. Lebron, Wade and Bosh played a combined 74 minutes, and besides Shane Battier, were the only players to score in double figures. While they were much more loose on the floor (seen with Lebron’s third-and-ten style hiking of the ball to D-Wade after the tipoff), no one wants to lose—even in preseason.
With that being said, Beal’s performance is nothing to take lightly. Coming into his sophomore season after being injured on the tail-end of his rookie season, Beal made a statement last night: when he’s healthy, he’s dangerous enough to keep the Miami Heat at bay.
From the tip-off all the way through his post-game comments, Bradley was oozing confidence. Playing in mid-season form with still half a month to go until the regular season starts, Beal made sure to remind the fans and opposing players how good he can be. Randy Wittman seemed to agree in his post-game comments.
“Last year, he was scared shitless, this year he’s playing with confidence…”
The Miami Heat organization also was quick to chime in about his stellar night. Head coach Erik Spoelstra said “…[Beal] is a heck of a young player, the biggest thing with him is staying healthy.”
Lebron also chipped in his accolades for the twenty-year-old from the University of Florida mentioning that he has a heck of a talent.
One of the most impressive moments of the night, to me, was seeing Beal on the fast break. I had to do a double take to make sure that wasn’t John Wall sprinting up and down the court. He showed some insane speed with the ball and some very flashy moves to get around the Miami defenders.
If Beal stays healthy and continues to play with this intensity, there would be no reason why he wouldn’t become an all-star in his sophomore year. Maybe it’s jumping the gun a bit to say that, but when the reigning world champions enter your building and the crowd leaves talking about a twenty-year-old on a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year, it’s hard not to imagine.
Oh yeah, and did I mention he does a great job at selling his self, too?
“…now I have a year under my belt and I think I did a great job being aggressive.”
Go ahead, young man. Go ahead.