The timing is understandable: The Wizards (6-16) are in the midst of a 16-game stretch in 27 days this month because of rescheduling in the wake of the team’s two-week coronavirus pause in January. After Friday, Washington faces the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets back-to-back on Sunday and Monday before playing the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The team then leaves on a West Coast trip with four games in six days.
Keeping Beal off the court Friday gives the 27-year-old three consecutive days of rest.
Both he and Coach Scott Brooks mentioned this week the apparent signs of fatigue up and down the roster. Many Wizards players are still working back to full strength after they missed an extended period of time because of the unexpected January break, while players such as Beal had to shoulder the burden of a shorthanded roster in the meantime.
“I mean, I can’t speak for our guys’ wind, but I know I be damn tired. I am tired. I did this today,” Beal said on a videoconference Monday, waving a hand to mimic asking for a sub. “I rarely ever ask for a sub. I knew I was tired today. I can only imagine how guys who haven’t played in three weeks feel. We’ll get it right, we’re going to continue to push it, and, you know, games don’t stop coming.”
Brooks said in a post-practice videoconference Thursday that Beal did not participate much in the day’s session, though that is normal during this condensed schedule — starting point guard Russell Westbrook took a light day as well.
Even so, seeing the Wizards take the court without Beal will be an odd sight Friday. The guard is one of just two players who have played at least 20 of the team’s 22 outings as Washington dealt with the coronavirus outbreak and a mélange of other injuries already this season. Only backup center Robin Lopez has played every game.
Brooks has a few options for Beal’s replacement Friday, including two-way player Garrison Mathews and guards Jerome Robinson and Troy Brown Jr., though none will have Beal’s impact.
Beal is shooting 46.8 percent overall and 33.3 percent on more than seven three-point attempts per game. He led all Eastern Conference guards by a wide margin Thursday when the league released the second round of NBA all-star voting. Beal had more than 2.5 million fan votes while No. 2 Kyrie Irving had just over 2.1 million and No. 3 James Harden had more than 1.8 million.