So perhaps in addition to finding a better way to defend the sweet-shooting Wizards guard, the Raptors should also try not to incite Beal as well.
Beal scored 28 points in Game 2 to help Washington seize a 2-0 lead heading back to D.C. and he did so with an edge.
Beal has not only been aggressive in looking for his offense –- something the Wizards have wholeheartedly encouraged –- but he has played with purpose. Almost like he was angry.
At halftime of Game 2, Beal was interviewed on court and told Comcast SportsNet, “They think that we’re some punks, they think that they can push us around. But we’re not rolling.”
And near the end of regulation in Game 1, Beal waved bye to Kyle Lowry after drawing the All-Star point guard’s sixth personal foul.
The normally mild-mannered Beal wouldn’t really admit to being angry. But clearly the Raptors are doing something to bring out what Beal describes as his “inner Brad.”
Beal averages 23.3 points per game in three games against the Raptors this season but 15.1 against all other teams. The 23.3 points per game is Beal’s highest average against any team he’s faced at least three times this season according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Beal's 28 points in Game 2 are also the most he has had in a game since December. Washington is 4-0 when Beal scores at least 27 points.
“Just me locked in I guess,” Beal said.
If Washington is going to make sure that the series does not return to Toronto, it will have to navigate its emotions carefully this weekend. The young Wizards are looking forward to playing in front of an amped up home crowd but they also know they can’t get too high or too comfortable as well with their 2-0 cushion.
Last year, the Wizards stole Games 1 and 2 in Chicago in the first round only to lose Game 3 at home. They defeated Chicago in five before losing in six in the following round to Indiana.
A year wiser and more mature, the Wizards say they know what to expect from Toronto in Game 3.
“We know the type of position we are in, never get comfortable even though you are up 2-0,” John Wall said. “Last year with the Bulls, up 2-0, had an opportunity to go up 3-0 coming home and we let them outplay us and they were more physical and they won that game. It is going to be a very physical game and they will try to do everything ... we got to keep our heads.”
At the same time, perhaps the Raptors should do everything they can not to incite Beal. They wouldn’t like Beal if he’s angry, after all.
“I think a lot of the stuff that y’all see coming out, I think has always been there,” Paul Pierce said of his trying to bring out Beal’s edgy side. “I just think I kind of manifest it to another level. He just got to stay poised and calm.”