Heat pull off rare feat of stopping Bradley Beal, who admits: 'I'm human'

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Chase Hughes
·4 min read
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Heat pull off rare feat of stopping Beal, who admits: 'I'm human' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Through the past two-plus seasons, Bradley Beal has learned how to counter just about anything opposing defenses can throw at him. While John Wall was out recovering from various injuries, he was the focal point of scouting reports, often seeing double and triple teams and the league's best defenders every night.

The experience forced Beal to round out his game, to add more and more to his repertoire. The result is the NBA's league-leading scorer, a guy who is a threat at all three levels and who can dribble, pass, shoot from the outside and finish around the rim. He's as complete an offensive player as you will find in today's NBA.

So, it's very rare you see what happened on Friday night when the Miami Heat held Beal to just seven points. It was his worst scoring night since December of 2018 and the worst shooting game (1-for-14) he's ever had with at least 10 shots attempted.

"I’m human. Every human being is due for a bad day," Beal said.

“It was just a matter of time until I had one of these games.”

Sure, maybe he was due. But Beal has become so consistent it was stunning to see him arrive at halftime 0-for-12 from the field and 0-for-5 from three. This followed a stretch of 17 straight games with 25 or more points to begin the season, besting Michael Jordan's previous record for the longest such streak since the NBA/ABA merger.

Even on nights Beal has started out slow, he's found his rhythm in the second half. This night, he stayed cold and sat out the fourth quarter as his team got blown out by 27 points. 

The Wizards had beaten this same Heat team on Wednesday, but Miami clearly came out in this one intent on stopping Beal first and foremost. They blitzed him on the perimeter and brought extra men for help whenever it looked like he was about to go on the attack.

Sometimes, the Wizards made them pay for doing so and found the open man. They just didn't do that enough.

“Anybody but [him]," Bam Adebayo said of the Heat's strategy on Beal. "He’s one of the premier scorers in this league right now. He’s the focal point of their team. That’s a talent right there. The biggest thing was trying to contain that type of talent.”

Adebayo was key in stopping Beal. He's one of the NBA's most gifted defenders, a 6-foot-9 big man who can effortlessly switch onto players of all five positions. In the first quarter, Beal got him on a backdoor cut but Adebayo caught up to him and blocked the ball out of bounds. It was a sign that nothing would come easy on this particular night.

NBA.com

Bradley Beal's shot chart (1-for-14 FG)

Four-time All-Defense selection Jimmy Butler got the primary assignment. He's bigger and stronger than Beal and brilliant at directing his man into traffic.

“I credit them. They made it hard for me to catch," Beal said. "Jimmy was the main matchup and we know he’s a good defender. A lot of shots were indecisive."

“He’s a hell of a player. Look how easy it is for him to put the ball in the basket," Butler said. "You have to literally know where he is everywhere on the floor at all times... [Next time] we’re going to have to hope he misses a lot more like that.”

Beal's scoring average dropped from 34.8 points per game to 33.3 due to this game. That's still good enough for the league lead, at about 2.8 points more than Kevin Durant, who is in second.

If Beal's remarkably consistent track record is any indication, the Hornets - the Wizards' next opponent - might want to brace for a rebound performance by Beal. The Wizards will be in Charlotte on Sunday.

“Nobody puts more pressure or critiques themselves more than I do," Beal said. "At the same time, I know what I need to do. I had a bad night. Nobody needs to pump me up for Sunday. I’m a true pro.”