After Friday night’s loss to Chicago, Coach Flip Saunders decided to give the Wizards a day and a half off to rest. They had played three preseason games in four days, including back to back games on Thursday and Friday. After Sunday’s practice, I’m sure the Wizards wished they had just went ahead and practiced Saturday.
Coach Saunders channeled his inner Pat Riley by practicing his team for three hours in the middle of Sunday, and judging by the fatigued looks on the players’ faces as they left the practice court in the Verizon Center, it was definitely a hard three hours.
Al Thornton wasn’t surprised:
“You knew it was going to be like that though, you gotta take a day off to get your legs back and get treatment and then get back to it. The Chicago game seemed a little sluggish, so we came back today and he pounded us.”
Nick Young weighed in as well:
“[Flip Saunders] said we needed more conditioning, so we ran a little bit more. It was a tough one today.”
After practice, Saunders explained the method behind his madness:
“We focused on defense, conditioning, and trying to clean things up as far as understanding what we’re doing offensively…The one bad thing about playing three games in four days is you have no practice time, so with no practice time, you can’t address things right away. So that’s why there was a long practice today, to address things in the first three games that we saw that we could correct.”
Other observations from today’s practice:
- Hilton Armstrong said he felt good after practice, and he expects to play on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. He sat out of Friday’s game in Chicago and Thursday’s game in Cleveland due to a sore right shoulder, which evidently occurred from him sleeping on it awkwardly.
- Al Thornton tweaked his ankle during practice when he went up for a rebound and came down on JaVale McGee’s foot. His status for Tuesday’s game won’t be assessed until he gets treatment.
- Saunders said that he is just experimenting with lineups right now, which is why he’s used the three-guard lineup for the first three preseason games. He’s not sure how much longer he’ll use that lineup, but he does realize its limitations. “It wouldn’t be right to think you’re going to put that group in again when you play LeBron James, and then one of those guys would have guard LeBron James,” Saunders remarked.
- Saunders also gave some insight as to what he’s looking for at the small forward position. “Ideally your three spots are for someone who can finish, and defend, and probably either has the ability to get to the basket or is a knockdown shooter, one of the two. We got some guys at camp that all bring something different,” the coach said.
- Finally, Kirk Hinrich was asked to comment on the difficult practice. He just kept walking right past the media and chuckled, simply saying, “No comment.”