There are any number of factors you can attribute to the resurgence of the Wizards, experiencing their best season in more than three decades. The biggest one is clear: John Wall and Bradley Beal have never been better than this.
On Friday, it was the same story. Wall led the way with 42 points, while Beal tossed in 31 points on his own. They shot 27-of-42 (64 percent) from the field, combined for 11 assists, seven steals, and three blocks, and that was enough to carry the Wizards to a 115-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6. The win pushes Washington onto the conference semifinals, and it’ll face the Celtics with a chance to head to the conference finals for the first time since 1979.
When the Wizards drafted Wall in 2010, and Beal two years later in 2012, this is probably the best-case scenario that they expected from the duo. Beal suffered through bothersome injuries in three of his first four seasons, but this year, he missed only five games. Wall, playing 78 games himself, had a career year. They each had career highs in scoring — both checking in at about 23 points per game — while Wall was second in the league in assists by averaging 10.7 per game.
It’s a yin-and-yang pairing. Beal is perimeter focused and demands the defense’s attention at all times thanks to his shooting touch, while Wall is as physically dominant as basically any player in the league with his combination of strength and speed. As the duo combined for 73 points in Game 6, it became painfully obvious that it’s just too hard to slow these two down.
When Atlanta did make a run, cutting Washington’s once 20-point lead to just three, it was Wall who came up with a huge chasedown block before added a tough layup and pull-up jumper extending the lead.
These two could be the best two players in their second round series against the Celtics, and that’s a problem for Boston. (Isaiah Thomas should lap Beal, but they can at least play at very similar levels.)
Washington must have known this was possible all along for these two, but it’s still a glorious realization that they’re both finally reaching that potential.