The goal for Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards remains clear even with the point guard’s vision issues: Win on Sunday and head to Indianapolis for Game 5 tied at 2-2.
Yes, that’s incredibly obvious. It’s also short-term thinking, which isn’t to infer that there is anything wrong with that. Live in the moment, Carpe Diem and all that. However, if we’re talking big picture, Game 4 represents the latest growth opportunity for Washington’s backcourt. For the first time this postseason, the Wizards trail in a series.
“You’re always going to have moments like this in the back of your mind,” the forward-thinking Beal said at Sunday’s shootaround. “When we come upon it in the future, we’ll know how to handle it if it goes right or if it goes wrong, either way.”
Ultimately, from the franchise’s perspective, this angle is the point of the postseason. Yes, win now, win this series and Washington reaches the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1979. Win or lose, Beal and John Wall are getting a taste of what the enhanced postseason play is all about.
But this isn't just about the young guards. As a group, the Wizards are experiencing this run together. That’s something Indiana’s core of Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert and others have done for several seasons. That native knowledge played a factor in the second half of the Pacers’ 85-63 win on Friday. Indiana pulled ahead with 12 straight points and Washington couldn’t stop the deficit from growing, scoring only 30 points after halftime en route to falling behind 2-1 in the series.
Asked about the team experience angle on Saturday, West said, “We know they’ve got guys over there that have played, that have got experience, but like you said, maybe not with their group. Our group has been through some tough moments, some tough battles. We draw together when things get tough.”
On Sunday morning, the Wizards didn’t talk like a team thinking there circumstances were tough.
“The series is not over yet,” center Marcin Gortat said. “They still have to win two more games. We have to win three more games. We have a game at home. We’re going to win this game. …It’s not that bad like everybody is thinking. We just have to win a game today.”
That’s the plan, win Game 4. As we know in sports and life, not all plans work out as hoped. What is guaranteed, the experience.
“It’s great for us, it’s our first playoffs together and hopefully many more to come,” Beal said. “We’re going to bear down and hopefully get a win. That’s what we’re focused on the most.”