Perhaps no one at Verizon Center was more upset that the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics were headed to overtime than Bradley Beal. The second-year player’s anger had nothing to do with failing to get the last shot in regulation or even the Wizards’ pathetic effort early, after which his team needed to dig out of a 19-point hole against a weakened foe before deciding to finally show up.
The extra five-minute frame meant that his night was essentially over because he had already played 30 minutes 15 seconds — and he remains on a strict 30-minute playing time restriction that has been in place since he returned in December from a stress injury in his right fibula.
Beal watched the overtime in disgust and only saw the court for the last three seconds, when John Wall missed a three-pointer as time expired and the Wizards had to accept a 113-111 defeat.
“I wish I was out there, no doubt,” Beal said. “I knew it was going to happen. I’m restricted to 30 minutes, I can’t fight it and there’s nothing I can do about it but accept it and cheer my teammates on and encourage them to get a win.”
Coach Randy Wittman was already angered by his team’s performance and was in no mood to answer questions about the situation afterward. “My hands are tied with Bradley Beal, that’s all I’m going to say about that,” he said. “I won’t comment any more.”
Beal and Wittman have both expressed their frustrations with the prescribed minutes limitation — mandated by the team’s medical staff — to which Beal has had to adhere for the past 19 games. The time constraint has forced Wittman to spend most games monitoring the box score closer than he does the action on the floor and to sit Beal, regardless of how well he might be playing.
“It’s hard sometimes,” Wittman said, when asked before the game about a similar situation involving Nene, “because I was a player and a player gets hot the first quarter and you ride a guy. It was my belief as a player and a coach. I can’t do that, because then you’re losing minutes at the end of the game. So it’s all that.”
Beal doesn’t know how long this situation will remain but he also realizes that he has to adjust. Before suffering his second serious leg injury in eight months, Beal had led the NBA in minutes played and miles traveled in a game. The constant contributed to him missing nine games and three weeks of action, so he’d rather get some minutes than none at all.
“I talked to doc a little bit and hopefully, within these next couple of weeks or so, I’ll be off of it,” Beal said. “Like Witt said, it’s out of his hands, it’s really kind of out of my hands, too. I know how I feel, but we’re also talking about my future here and for the rest of my life. So I just got to take it slow, suck it up and deal with it.”
Beal played a huge role in igniting the 23-9 third-quarter rally that allowed the Wizards to enter the third quarter trailing 76-73. He scored six of his 14 points during the run but had to sit the final four minutes of the third period. He came back and tied the score at 81 with a long jumper but had to sit again so that he’d be available for the final push at the end of the fourth quarter.
“That’s tough and I know it’s frustrating on him, but that’s on me to do a better job to get him more attempts knowing he can only play a short amount of minutes,” Wall said after recording a triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Beal was coming off his best all-around game of the season against Philadelphia, as he nearly had a triple-double with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. But he realizes that his team didn’t lose to Boston solely because he wasn’t available for the overtime.
“I got faith and confidence in my teammates to be able to pull out a win for sure,” Beal said. “Everybody is frustrated, because these are games that you know you should win. It’s like we just let them slip out of our hands…I don’t like it personally because it is a very winnable game, but at the same time, we got to have amnesia, we have to move on from it. I mean it is one loss, but we have four tough ones coming up. Starts in Phoenix.”