Sure, I pretty much said the Wizards would lose to the Magic on Thursday in my last post. But there’s always an ‘if’ … and Gilbert Arenas is just that. Coming into this season, I’ve been confident that Arenas would be healthy enough to be a very effective scorer. Some are concerned about his knee, but if the mystique of Tim Grover proves true, time off due to suspension only made the surgical repairs stronger, with more rest.
We’re talking about a guy who scored 45 points in a game last season — and 25 or more points in 10 out of 32 games, seven of those games coming in December when Arenas started to heat up. The Wizards went 4-6 in the win/loss column when Gil scored 25 or more … which I guess isn’t bad, considering.
No, instead of his offense, what I’ve wanted to see from Gilbert is if his defensive legs can prove something other than the norm, for him, especially after Flip Saunders has backed Arenas’ defensive capability so much. People are already afraid that the twists and turns will continue with Gilbertology. Hopefully, lingering groin and ankle injuries won’t contribute more of that feeling you get when the plane or roller coaster takes a sudden drop.
But if Gilbert is merely a bench ornament in Orlando, the name of the Wizards’ game will still be to out-trick the Magic with strong and dominant guard play — pressure bursts pipes and speed makes it worse. Hello John Wall.
An upset toppling like a good ol’ Pyramid Scheme in the new Amway Center isn’t beyond comprehension. What if Dwight Howard gets in foul trouble, or perhaps is moved by the spirit to pick up a couple of those ‘new’ technicals? Who else do the Orlando Magic have that can out-basketball the Wiz kids? Vince Carter? I imagine that Al Thornton is a threat to give him the ‘Melo Treatment (meaning the one time Thornton played stellar defense against Carmelo Anthony).
Another If …
It all starts with Wall (I feel like a broken record saying this … when he hasn’t even played his first game). He’s definitely going to have some nerves to start, maybe you’ll even get a giggle from one of his early jitters. But he’s also a ball-player who will set the tone with energy, especially on the defensive end. If his teammates don’t follow, it’s going to reflect poorly on them.
Who cares about predicting the outcome anyway, I just can’t wait to see the first time Wall challenges Dwight Howard in his real pro debut.