Ok, Halloween Night, at the Verizon, ready for the Wiz to make up for last night’s loss in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the Wizards didn’t just lose the game, but they lost Caron Butler too.
Butler had an MRI and X-Ray today that revealed no structural damage; the diagnosis was a bruised kneecap. Before the game, Flip Saunders said he expected Butler to be back in the lineup against the Cavs in Cleveland on Tuesday. The official injury report is that he’s day-to-day.
In Caron’s place, Randy Foye will start; Mike Miller will move to the three-spot. Arenas obviously still starts at the point and Fabricio Oberto and Brendan Haywood will hold down the front court.
I spoke to Foye before the game. He said it will be a little bit different on out the court with the starters, but he will have the same mindset to play his game … be aggressive on offense, execute plays, and play hard on defense.
Success of the Wizards is contingent upon the court leadership of Gilbert Arenas. This is not a ground-breaking concept. Despite looking “back” in Dallas, he’s still rusty, and he and the team have a good deal of the development “process” to go.
Nothing could have more exemplified this than the first quarter in Atlanta. As I wrote in the previous game post, Arenas had eight points, one turnover in the game’s first 6:20 and one point, five turnovers in the remainder of the first half. When the offense started to get sloppy, Arenas did not exert control on this situation to calm his team down.
A large part of the problem was that Arenas was breaking a lot of plays to drive to the basket. Yes, it’s true that you want Arenas to be aggressive, in particular because it would wear down Joe Johnson. However, that has to come more in the flow of the offense than it did tonight. Arenas kept calling his own number instead of letting the offense run itself and then dumping the ball to another scorer. The rest of the players were often not prepared for Arenas’ decisions and didn’t get in position to defend in transition.
The strive to achieve more balance is new to Arenas. It’s gonna take some time. All Wizards fans can do is have faith that the experience of Flip Saunders will work to correct these issues and the desire of Arenas to be a better player will make him wholly receptive to the process.
Just as holistically in-sync the Wizards looked on Tuesday in Dallas, they looked about the exact opposite on Friday in Atlanta. What gives?
Sure, the team came on late behind some yesteryear Hibachi appetizers and a little Epic Vale pogo-stick length. But when Agent Zero goes from eight points and one turnover in the game’s first 6:20 to Agent Turnover with one point and five giveaways in the first half’s remaining 17:40, the team is digging itself a hole.
Not to discredit the Hawks, they are a good team. But it was less of them beating the Wizards and more of the Wizards beating themselves. Oh … and well, Atlanta was also 31-34 from the free-throw line while the Wizards shot 14-22. The disparity seems dramatic, but the Wizards migrated between trying to carelessly attack the basket and settling for jumpers. So in that regard, the Wiz really don’t have anyone to blame but themselves … but I’ll also credit Atlanta’s defense just a tad.
Looking for areas to pin blame? Point guard play and poor initiation/stewardship of the offense stand out to me. To others, it was the defensive presence of Haywood (minus-11, tied with Arenas for the second worst plus/minus) and Blatche (team worst minus-17), and their inability to contain Al Horford and Josh Smith.
Just released: Team President Ernie Grunfeld announced that the Wizards would exercise the contract options on Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Young will be retained for his fourth season (2010-11) for an estimated $2,630,503, and McGee for his third season (also 10-11) for an estimated $1,601,040. [Salary Source: HoopsHype]
Now on to the preview of tonight’s game … back to the ATL already?
The Wizards were in Atlanta just over 10 days ago for a preseason game that was disappointing … to put it simply. Of course, they were without Gilbert Arenas and Mike Miller due to the flu, and Antawn Jamison due to a shoulder subluxation. Still, lack of effort is lack of effort.
Flip Saunders talks about the opening night win against the Mavericks and looks to Friday’s game against the Hawks in Atlanta. He also praises JaVale McGee for a hard practice and relates how his rotation can always change if players want to earn time.
Jamison talks about his shoulder feeling good, shooting for the first time, and being a cheerleader in Dallas.
Also, NBC 4′s Lindsay Czarniak sat down with Irene Pollin to talk about her involvement in professional sports with her husband Abe.
There are two states Wizards fans should be in after last night’s game: anxiousness relieved and mid-range.
Between Jamison being out for the next ten games or so, and an inconsistent preseason where the Wizards’ major players didn’t really see a ton of court time together, fans really didn’t know what to expect on opening night … in hostile territory and against a team that many expect to be amongst the best in the West (after the Lakers and Spurs).
There are certainly many different types of swagger, just ask Dan Steinberg. What was seen last night was ‘Sustainability Swag’. Every time Dirk started heating up, every time you thought the Mavs might make a run, the Wizards’ veterans came together and withstood oncoming water like a brick wall. The Wiz didn’t dazzle and amaze. They simply looked good. They were poised. Such composure and consistency on the court has been a rare sight for this franchise. Enjoy this one folks, you deserved it.
Game night is finally here. It seems like only yesterday I was pouting about my favorite league in my favorite sport ending and it’s back already.
I must admit, just under three hours before the Wizards tip off their season against the Mavericks in Dallas, I’m not exactly as pumped as I feel I should be. A lot of it probably has to do with Jamison being injured and my current level of optimism being a bit more guarded as a result.
Meh … all of this will probably change once the ball is thrown in the air and I’ll be as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve (or whatever holiday you may celebrate where you know will be getting presents the next day). Read more »