Khem Birch: “It’s a really good benefit and individually it was good as well, to see my potential. I’ve never had a coach tell me to do those types of things… He’s a great guy and down to earth. He’s kind of different from the other coaches I’ve had. He’s really new-school and I see why the Raptors are a very good team.”
November 29, 2021 | 4:29 am EST Update
As Wes Unseld Jr. typically does after victories, he checked in with each player in the locker room. Often Unseld merely bumps fists with a player at that player’s locker, pats him on the back or says something along the lines of “good job.” But after the Wizards beat the Dallas Mavericks 120-114, with Bradley Beal playing a decisive role, Unseld had a specific message for his star.
Unseld wanted Beal to know Beal outdid himself this time — putting the team first by consistently making the “right” basketball play instead of trying to win the game all on his own. The scene illustrated the difficult adjustment Beal is trying to make, and it also showed how much Unseld appreciates his star’s efforts to make that adjustment.
“It’s a total mental transition from last year,” Beal said. “My mentality, obviously, was I had to score in order for us to be in games last year. For us to be in a game, not win a game. But to actually be competitive in a game, I had to score a lot of points. It’s not like that this year, and I have to take that mindset back at times.”
With reports that Jokic’s brothers are going to the Monday match after buying tickets, Heat veteran Udonis Haslem recently issued a stern warning to them. “I have nothing to do with that, man,” Haslem said to the Miami Herald. “We’re going to play a basketball game. “That’s over with. I don’t have nothing to do with that. I keep hearing about the Jokic brothers buying tickets to come to the game. They better stay in line and don’t come down there and start trouble. Miami is my city. It’s my city.”
Haslem has already expressed his respect for Jokic and a desire to move on from the issue. He reiterated that the Heat will go to play basketball, and that Jokic’s siblings should just enjoy the game and go home afterwards if they do intend to attend. “What the hell you buying tickets for?” Haslem continued. “To come do what? That’s my city. Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing. Come enjoy the game and take your [butts] home. Ain’t nobody messing with your brother. We come to play basketball.”
Curry also seemed fired up to show he can excel on defense, too. After fielding criticism about his defense for most of his 13-year NBA career, Curry impressed the Warriors so much with his six steals, eight deflections and overall hustle that they acknowledged viewing him more as a defensive asset than a liability. “He’s one of the best defenders we have on our team now,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green, who is an early candidate to collect his second Defensive Player of the Year honor this season. “It’s beautiful to watch. When he’s giving the type of effort that he gives on that side of the floor, everyone else has to follow. It makes our defense that much better.”