The Second-Most Important Matchup In Boston/Washington Series


Admit it, when you found out the Celtics were matched up against the Wizards in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, you thought of one matchup: Isaiah Thomas versus John Wall. The series, a battle between the two best point guards in the East, head-to-head in a best of seven, for a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals presumably against LeBron James (who has been to each of the last six Eastern Conference Finals) and the Cavs.

Sure, watching IT and John Wall go back and forth for a combined 93 of a total 248 points in Game 2 was as entertaining as playoff basketball gets, but the Thomas/Wall matchup may not ultimately decide the series. Instead, the battle of the Bradleys could be a determining factor on who comes out on top when the series is over.

So far the matchup at the two has been relatively quiet, taking a backseat to the Thomas/Wall battle – and understandably so. As I looked over Bradley Beal and Avery Bradley’s stats through the first two games, though, I was kind of shocked at some of the similarities.

Through Games 1 and 2, Beal is just 13-34 from the floor and 5-16 from downtown. Meanwhile, through Games 1 and 2, Bradley has shot 13-36 from the floor and, get this, 5-16 from downtown. These poor shooting displays are largely uncharacteristic for the two guards.

During the regular season, Beal shot about 48% from the field and 40% on threes; while Bradley shot about 46% from the field and 39% on threes.  Currently, both are shooting ten percent worse on the whole and on threes in this series than they had all season.

As far as other statistics go – if there’s one thing you know Avery Bradley for, it’s his defense – you generally know what to expect.

Bradley has seven steals over the first two games, to Beal’s two. Beal is averaging two and a half more turnovers per game. Beal is averaging four assists per contest, while Bradley is managing just two and a half. Bradley is out-rebounding Beal by one and a half boards per game, but only pulling down four and a half – a drop off from his career-high 6.1 rebounds per game that he averaged this past regular season.

Beal is outscoring Bradley, 20.5ppg to 16ppg; but when you think about who you expect to score more, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The most telling stat of all is the plus/minus line for the two of them.

Bradley is a quiet +2 and on the other end of the spectrum, Beal is a disappointing -17.

Bradley has been doing what he’s expected to do, for the most part, he’s playing great defense and shutting down Beal. Whereas Beal is shooting poorly and turning the ball over at a disturbing rate.

If the Wizards have any hopes of coming back in this series, they need to draw up plays to get Beal open looks so he can see the ball going through the net. They get Beal making shots and this series could easily return to Boston tied at two apiece.

At the same rate, some things are easier said than done. Bradley has been playing stellar defense against Washington and that’s not something you can count on changing.

Watch for Beal to try and get his shot going early in Game 3 and if that happens, Boston may not quite have this series in the bag yet.

Of course, Thomas and Wall’s play will be huge factors for each team, but pay attention to who controls the matchup at the two. If Beal can come alive offensively, this series will look a lot different than it has thusfar.

About Brandon Wentz

Mayor of the borough of Mt. Carbon, Pennsylvania. Disappointed fan of the Phoenix Suns. Humble narcissist. Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/thebighonch

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