The Wizards look like a team of PlayStation. And not because they win games, something that is costing them a lot this year despite the spectacular streak they had before the All Star, when it even seemed that they had playoff options. They are now five wins away and have won their first match after the break., which sank them when they were at their best and left them shivering. They had five consecutive defeats before meeting with the Jazz, almost the most difficult rival of the streak, which they have imposed in Washington with two stellar performances of, once again, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, who want to break all statistical records despite seeing, now, incredibly far some playoffs that they have more difficult than ever to access, something that they will only do except surprise and historical comeback; and not because of the distance they are from eighth placeRather, because they have four teams ahead of them, plus those who are immersed in the fight for qualification and who constantly move in and out of those positions.
The team led by Scott Brooks scored more than 30 points in all the quarters, something typical for prolific scorers who need a shot of offensive play to win a game by not exerting, of course, any effort on defense. And the numbers, attention, they were from another world: Westbrook went to 35 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists, with 12 of 23 on field goals, 2 of 5 on triples and 9 of 11 on free throws.. He lost 5 balls, but his team added a +10 with him on the court, almost unprecedented news if we take into account his fame to subtract more than to add. It is, by the way, Westbrook’s 13th triple-double this season and the third he has achieved in the last four games, as well as having delivered 10 or more assists in seven of the last eight. In Beal’s case, the display was, again, scoring: 43 points (and 5 assists), with 6 of 24 in shots (tremendous) and 4 of 6 in triples, plus 7 of 8 in free throws.
On the other side of the dynamic duo, the Jazz no longer look like either the 2014 Spurs or the 2016 Warriors. As if touched by a wand, they seemed immortal in that spectacular streak where nothing and no one could stop them. Now, They have run out of that dose of magic they used to earn and is a vulnerable team, who continues to hold the leadership of the Western Conference but see Lakers in 1.5 games who are second after taking advantage of the losses of Quin Snyder, the Suns and, a day earlier, that of the Clippers. Donovan Mitchell signed up for Beal’s scoring festival and looked him in the face in a tall match: 42 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists, with 16 of 30 in field goals and 4 of 12 in triples, in addition to 6 of 7 in free throws. The problem for Utah is that now they need an individual exhibition to win and it is not enough with the excellent team game they practiced in their spectacular streak. One more sign that the magic is over. What we do not know, is if it will return.
The Wizards will have to return to a spectacular streak if they want to work the miracle of the playoffs. For now, they will settle for being one of the best teams in the competition, having Beal as the top scorer and with Westbrook to continue to overcome Oscar Robertson in the list of historical triple-doubles, which will surely lead in the not too distant future. In the case of the Jazz, they will have to recover their game if they do not want scares in the first place of the toughest Conference, but beyond that position, the objective is sensations that have disappeared and that, being so impressive, will be difficult to recover. We already said it: the Jazz need to play perfect, as they were doing, if they really want to have the right to be considered title contenders. But, by the time they drop 10%, they will have a very difficult time winning a seven-game series against the Lakers or Clippers (who can afford not to use their full capacity), or even Suns, with more raw talent. There will be the key for them. And for everyone else, of course.
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