After long road back, Bradley Beal thrilled to return to postseason

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Beal thrilled to return to postseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When the Wizards were losing, everyone wanted to know what Bradley Beal was thinking. There was speculation about his future, whether he would request a trade, whether he wanted out.

That talk died down earlier this season when he, the Wizards and his agent combined to quiet the noise. Collectively, they made it clear he did not want to go anywhere and that he was firmly committed to seeing this through in Washington.

Finally, at long last, his patience is starting to pay off. Beal has played portions of the last four seasons on struggling teams, with major injuries to the roster around him. Last year, he was the standout veteran in a developmental year, surrounded by young players who weren't ready to win. 

All of it has tested him, no doubt. But now that the Wizards are playing very well, winners of 17 of their last 23 games as they return to the postseason for the first time in three years, how is Beal feeling these days?

Much better, as you can imagine.

"It’s been amazing and it’s all I’ve been caring about and all I’ve been focusing on. I haven’t been in the playoffs for two or three years," Beal said. 

"That’s unlike us, we’re usually there. We’re usually fighting and competing and in the mix. I definitely took some bumps and lumps along the way and it definitely helped mature my game and prepare me for this situation. I’m definitely excited we’re back to where we belong. We’re a playoff-type team."

Beal's right about the Wizards being more accustomed to making the playoffs, at least during his tenure. By his second season, when he was only 20 years old, Washington become a perennial postseason contender. And when they got there, more often than not they won a series.

From 2013 to 2018, they made the playoffs four times in five years. Only once did they not advance a round.

This year, they have to navigate the play-in tournament to qualify for the playoffs, but Beal feels good about where they are, as the No. 8 team in the East.

"If the year was regular, we’d still be in the playoffs. So, that’s amazing," he said.

If you go back to that 2017-18 season, the last Wizards team to make the playoffs, Beal is the only player that remains on the roster. But head coach Scott Brooks is still here and he can speak to what the last few years have been like for Beal.

"He doesn’t get enough credit with what he’s had to go through with all the injuries the last three years," Brooks said. "Trust me, he doesn’t like getting triple-teamed and things like that, but he had to go through that because of what we were playing with and because of the transition of our team, playing a lot of the younger players and giving guys opportunities. But he’s handled it like I knew he would and now that we’re playing much better and our young guys are improving and we’ve added some valuable pieces, he’s a winning basketball player who is about team."

Beal is admittedly not 100% as he enters the postseason as he continues to deal with a left hamstring strain. But he is healthy enough to play and just getting to this point is a step forward in itself.