Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm recently posed some questions to a round-table of Wizards and Cavs bloggers. Here are my initial responses, stay tuned for the rest.
1. How is this time around going to be different from the other times you’ve met the Cavs in the playoffs? Last year was obviously a joke with the injuries, but the year before that was a pretty entertaining series. How confident do you feel right now going into this matchup?
Yea, I’m not counting last year. For the Wizards, injuries and lack of depth sealed their fate. So, I’ll compare this year to what happened in 05-06 when the Cavs took out the Wizards 4-2 in a thrilling series:
In the 05-06 playoffs, the Wizards struggled to field even a seven man rotation. Arenas, Butler (before he really came into his own) Jamison, Haywood, and Jared Jeffries were the series starters. We all loved the defense of Jeffries (at times), but that dude was soft like goo and couldn’t finish a layup to save his life…..not to mention that he wasn’t opening a damn thing inside with any sort of outside presence. Insert DeShawn Stevenson, the Lock Smith. Not only has DeShawn been a warrior, playing through a multitude of injuries this year, but he’s played great defense against some of the toughest match-ups in the league. Did I mention that Stevenson has drained 157 threes this year…only about 30 more than DeShawn made in his previous seven NBA seasons combined.
Bench please. In 06, it basically consisted of Antonio Daniels and several square pegs trying to fit into round holes: (total series minutes played in parens) — Billy Thomas (13:55), Etan Thomas (18:20), Michael Ruffin (69:36:), and Donell Taylor (3:12). You’re putting yourself behind the 8-Ball when Michael Ruffin is your key 7th man. And yes, I do realize that the bench time shortens during the playoffs, but that should not detract from the need to have kick-ass relief.
This year, you have Roger Mason Jr. aka Mase-ON, aka The Potomac Rainmaker, aka Dr. Trey, coming off the pine to confidently make buckets son. You also got your Darius Songaila, the Lithuanian Brawler, hitting jumpers, driving to the hoop, getting boards, and helping the offense tick. If up and coming Andray Blatche can stay out of foul trouble, he can contribute with energy, rebounds, blocks and passing. Oh yea, that Gilbert Arenas fella….Eddie Jordan has said that he’ll continue to bring Arenas off the bench during the playoffs — we’ll see if that lasts. I’m all for severely limiting the minutes of Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Oleksiy Pecherov in the post-season.
After typing all that, it’s safe to say that I’m much more confident. I give the Wizards a 65% chance of taking the series.
2. What do you think the strategy should be for the Wizards concerning the Cavs’ frontcourt size?
I’ll be damned if I’m going to be concerned about Benny Wallace and Andy Varejao on offense…but I’m really worried about those two hitting the offensive boards. I think Brendan Haywood’s maturity has really developed since last year and that he is ready to give it his all. Darius Songaila has gone toe-to-toe with the likes of Dwight Howard, so I think he’s up to task. The aforementioned Andray Blatche needs to keep his butt out of foul trouble. I think he and Joe Smith are important wild cards for both teams. The outside shooting of Ilgauskas would seemingly cause issues for the Wiz in opening up the lane for LeBron (but it’s not like anyone else on Cleveland can penetrate), and Brendan Haywood has traditionally matched up well against Zydrunas. Cleveland should be worrying about who is going to guard Antawn Jamison.
3. Who do you think has the advantage in the backcourt?
Backcourt Advantage? Well, if you’re putting LeBron in the backcourt, you gotta include Tuff Juice on the side for the Wizards. So, it’s Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson, Antonio Daniels, Roger Mason Jr., Caron Butler, and just maybe Nick Young vs. LBJ, Boobie Gibson, a guy named Sasha [injured for series], Delonte West, and Damon “Pretty Boy” Jones. With King James throwing off the balance, it seems pretty close, but I consider chumps like Damon Jones a minus for the Cavs. I’ll put his face at the top of my blog until next season begins if he beats the Wiz in a game this year like he did in game 6 of 2006.
(most of these were covered on the Bullets Forever Game 1 thread, but here’s what’s interesting about them)
Are Gilbert’s Mind Games Working? On Friday, James acknowledged that he was truly caught off guard by Arenas writing on his blog that the Cavaliers were the team Washington wanted to play. [Washington Post]
Look Who’s Talking….again: “I’m an assassin. I get buckets. I haven’t played in a long time, but my shot is still there. When I come off the bench, there’s going to be some trouble.” – Gilbert Arenas [WashingtonWizardsBlog]
Rebounding from Israel: For all the talk about LeBron James, the biggest concern I have coming into this series is the rebounding. I know LeBron will get his points, but they will only lead to a victory if the Wizards fall asleep on the glass. [Pradamaster, Bullets Forever]
Get Your Cotton Candy Ready: A ring-tone rapper just may be in the house. [The Plain Dealer]
Waiting For Cavalier Shooting: ….if none of these shooters can step up and hit some shots for the Cavaliers, it will minimize the Wizard’s biggest liability and it will make life awfully dificult on the Cavaliers. [Waiting For Next Year]
Don’t Sleep on Brendan Todd Haywood. During that series , center Brendan Haywood became something of a villain in Cleveland after engaging in a shoving match and exchanging trash talk with then-Cavalier Drew Gooden in Game 2. “I don’t think they’re going to worry too much about me,” Haywood cracked. “I think that right now, their focus is going to be on somebody else.” [Washington Post]
Gunfight Anyone? Like Doc Holiday said in Tombstone, the Wizards aren’t looking for revenge…they want a “reckoning.” [Welcome to the Now]
Slam is NOT Nas……One Love? Nope. But I think all that any of us need to know about these Wizards is that we (fans, media, that blogger guy with the hat who’s not Gilbert) have spent a lot more time this season talking about the guy who barely played, and what he “blogged” about, and how we all sort of got tired of him, and also about how DeShawn Stevenson is a loon, than we have about what these guys do when they’re wearing their matching tank tops and running around with on the court. Which tells me they’re not a serious contender for much of anything this year……which sort of makes them like the Cavs, only less compelling in an actual basketball sense, because you can’t really see these Wizards contending ever, at least not as presently constructed. [Ryan Jones, Slam]
Oochie Coochie La-La-La: Hilarious [WizzNutzz]
Join Antawn Jamison’s Book Club: “All Buts Stink! How to Live Your Best Life and Eliminate Excuses.” [Washington Post]
Deuce of Muresan [Deuce of Davenport]
An “Iffy” Prediction: If LeBron gets past his back woes, Cavs in seven. If he doesn’t, Wizards in six. [Deadspin]
A Better Future: Zards in 5 [The Hype Guy]
“X” Factor: Mase-ON [Wizards Insider]
The Guy Who Blogs For Gilbert is a Sixers Fan? Drag. [Gilbertology]
I even think Mike Jones is sippin’ on that sizzurp: So, in so many words, the Wizards say, Bring on the Cavaliers. [Washington Times]
Blogger Trash Talk.
analysis bullshit of Le Cavs has led them to pick Cleveland in 3.
The Cavs will win this series. It will be close after each game – 110-109, 99-97, 103-99 – but it will not really be close, because the Wizards don’t have a chance. Cavs in 3!
Too bad first round series are now 7 games instead of 5…..it’s been like that since ’03 chief. Of course, the error is later corrected….with another mistake:
Now, as for the Cavs, I do stand by Cavs in 5, and I’m not worried. Sure, we have our work cut out for us with the scoring of Jamison, Butler and Arenas, but we’ve seen before that those 3 don’t mesh so well.
The only thing that don’t mesh so well is those tank-tops you probably wear.
Wizards In Six.