The Wizards are in Miami tonight for a rematch with Dwyane Wade and the rest of whomever he plays with.
The sense of urgency is elevated. Yea, yea … it’s early. But considering where things stand, tonight’s game and how the Wizards respond to their self-induced and injury-induced adversity is much more important at a record of 2-5 than if the Wizards were, say, 4-3 and still learning how to play with each other.
#1: Activate the offense.
Whether it be moving the ball more, making the extra pass, not being hesitant on initial open jumpers, limiting extra dribbles, or just finishing close shots … someone has to crack that glow-stick, shake things up, and start lighting up the scoreboard.
#2: Stop (/Contain) Dwyane Wade.
Not going to be easy … clearly. It’s hard for any team to stop Wade.
Of course, no one else has allowed Wade to score 40 points on .538 from the field this year. In the five games Wade hasn’t played against the Wizards, he’s averaging 25.6 ppg on .421 FG%. Four of those games were Miami wins with their sole loss coming at home against the red hot Phoenix Suns.
All of this leads one to wonder … What starting lineup will Flip Saunders use?
Will he use Randy “Catch-22″ Foye who might/might not provide consistency on offense, but will most likely get abused by Wade in the post? (And if it’s not Foye on Wade, it’s Arenas … which is almost just as bad.)
Or does DeShawn Stevenson start and give Wade more trouble, while leaving a lot to be desired on the offensive end?
Could a lineup of Arenas, Stevenson, Butler, Blatche and Haywood provide offensive capability while allowing for defensive maintenance?
I understand the need to keep Blatche adjusted to his role of coming off the bench (and the need to monitor his limited stamina) … and I understand that Oberto is much more adept at guarding screen and rolls (although it’s tough for him to keep up with someone like Michael Beasley on dribble penetration, an area Miami didn’t really exploit the last game) … but an alternative solution to the season’s problems might need to be considered.
To halt the speculation, let’s take a look at how four different lineup combinations have fared so far this season using stats from 82games.com. Each involves Arenas, Butler and Haywood starting, with some combination of Foye or Stevenson at the other guard spot, and Oberto or Blatche at the four spot. But first, he’s a glossary:
- Min = the total minutes the unit was on the floor.
- +/- = the team net points for the unit.
- eFG = the effective shooting percentage, adjusted for the value of 3-point shots.
- eFGA = the effective shooting percentage allowed to opponents.
- Close = the percentage of shots taken from close range.
- dClose = the percentage of opponents’ shots taken from close range.
- Reb = the rebound percentage for the unit, based on chances.
- T/O = the net turnover percentage for the unit based on opponent turnovers minus unit turnovers.
Off the bat, the inclination is to throw out lineups two and three. Both have negative plus/minuses. Both are anemic on offense, shooting below 37% eFG with an inability to get close shots and the propensity to turn the ball over. Not only that, each of these two lineups also allow opponents to shoot an eFG over 50% and have a poor rebounding percentage in comparison to lineups one and four.
Before moving on, here are the lineup combinations:
#1) Arenas – Stevenson – Butler – Blatche – Haywood
#2) Arenas – Foye – Butler – Oberto – Haywood
#3) Arenas – Foye – Butler – Blatche – Haywood
#4) Arenas – Stevenson – Butler – Oberto – Haywood
Seems rather elementary, don’t start a combination of Arenas, Foye and Butler on the perimeter. It’s hurting the team, statistically speaking.
The Stevenson-Oberto combination reads a bit better than the Stevenson-Blatche combo … so, whatever is clever.
It will be interesting to see what lineup adjustments, if any, Flip Saunders makes.
Jamison & Miller Back?
Everyone seems jazzed about a ‘Tweet’ Ric Bucher posted late Monday evening/Tuesday morning about the possibility of Jamison and Miller returning against the Pistons this Saturday: “Also, look for Antawn Jamison, and maybe even Mike Miller, to be back for the Wizards on Saturday vs. Pistons.”
Bucher surely has contacts/sources with the Wizards organization, but this tweet is really nothing different than what Mike Jones reported after practice on Monday afternoon:
A team insider says it’s unlikely that the Wizards will make any moves, however, because they expect reinforcements to arrive as soon as the end of this week asAntawn Jamison will return to full practice on Thursday. And Mike Miller, who was shooting one-handed free throws today, could return shortly there after.
Seems like Bucher just added a ‘maybe’ and a specific game, which happens to fall under the realm of “the end of this week”.
Wale Drops Debut
There are internet claims that Wale’s new (and “official” first) album, Attention Deficit, is a monument for D.C. And while I like Wale, and will certainly pick up his debut, he’s significantly falling short when it comes to ‘putting on for his city’ in one specific area: local sports team loyalty.
Wale puts on for his Skins, and often wears a Nats. But when it comes to the Wizards? NOPE.
Yeah, but I gotta be honest, I’m not the biggest Wizards fan. I usually root for the Nuggets and the Cavs.
He went on to say he’s “definitely” a big fan of LeBron … BLASPHEMY! I’d never really knock Wale for being a fan of LeBron. The guy is really, really good at basketball … but to flat-out not root for the Wizards?
Disappointing to say the least … for a D.C. hip-hop monument and all.
I’m not quite sure why Wale has decided to pull a ‘LeBron James’ and root for a team outside of the region he claims to represent (in case I haven’t written it before, LeBron, the self-proclaimed “King of Ohio”, grew up rooting for the Cowboys, Yankees and Bulls). Wale once twittered that he’s had “run ins” with (some of) the Wizards.
So, make what you will about all of this … but as a prideful D.C. resident and sports fan, I can’t help but have a bad taste in my mouth as a result.