D.C. vs. Philly… Back for more or back for revenge? BUT IT’S ONLY THE PRESEASON! Right, but with a long basketball hiatus and short opportunity to develop team cohesiveness, it’s an important preseason. So it’s Wizards versus Sixers Part II tonight on NBA TV at 7 pm (
or if you’re local loyal, with Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier on Comcast SportsNet Washington – NOPE… here in D.C., NBA TV is blacked-out and the local Comcast is providing the Philly feed on their non-HD CSN+ channel — “Great”). Three questions… Three answers from Adam McGinnis, Rashad Mobley and Kyle Weidie… Time for some 3-on-3.
1) On Saturday after practice, Flip Saunders said facing Philadelphia again might be more ideal from a game-preparation standpoint, in knowing what the Sixers might do, but otherwise it doesn’t really matter. Yes, it’s just the preseason, but do you agree with Saunders? Or will the fact that the Wizards are playing the same team that embarrassed them on Friday sharpen their focus a bit more?
McGINNIS: On the surface, it should help them and heighten their concentration. In reality, Philadelphia is just a way better team than the Wizards right now. So any familiarity of knowing their plays is insignificant. After the dud that the Wizards dropped on Friday, this is more about them than the opponent they’re facing.
MOBLEY: I disagree with Flip, it does matter. I remember the competitiveness of John Wall during summer exhibition games (yes, I know it was just summer). If he missed a basket, he’d try his best to make a play on the other end. I expect him to have that attitude tonight, and hopefully his teammates will follow. Another bad loss for the Wizards going into the season opener next Monday would affect this young team’s confidence in a bad way.
WEIDIE: At a top-level sense, the coach was right. His team should be able to respond — or rather, he should have his team prepared to respond — to just about any opponent. The fact that Washington is facing the same team that gave them a beat down might provide a minor boost in being able to immediately quench hurt pride versus familiar faces. But they are also NBA players, they should be ready to take basketball troubles out on any opponent. Faces, names and jerseys should not matter.
2) The consensus might be that improvement in this next game starts with John Wall, but after him, at what player are you looking toward the most in terms of expected improvement in effort and play during this next preseason game.
McGINNIS: JaVale McGee needs to step up his game. Because if the Wizards are going to have any shot to compete for a playoff berth, he must protect the rim and paint more than he did in their opening loss. The 76ers faced little resistance in carving up Washington’s poor interior defense.
MOBLEY: Rashard Lewis. He recently told the Post’s Michael Lee that last year was extremely tough for him both on and off the court, and that he was looking forward to a fresh start. In his first chance to make that fresh start last Friday, Lewis shot 1-5 and scored two points in 22 minutes; and to be perfectly honest, I barely noticed him. Flip Saunders has praised Lewis for being a leader during training camp, now he needs to show it on the court.
WEIDIE: Selflessness on offense starts with John Wall, but Jordan Crawford isn’t far behind him. He’s supposed to be the guy who can score, and take some pressure off Wall with his ability to create (when not jacking shots). The hope is that the not-so-young buck (Crawford is already 23-years old in his second NBA season … not old, old, but not young) doesn’t find himself falling in line with the franchise history of braggadocious talkers who can’t back up their mouths.
3) What do you expect to see out of Nick Young on Tuesday (assuming he plays), and how should Flip Saunders manage the starting two-guard spot (i.e., is it Jordan Crawford’s to lose)?
McGINNIS: Nick Young is the starter, period. The organization sometimes uses the valid talking point, “It’s a business,” so Young should not be penalized for exercising his professional options in said NBA business. Whichever way Flip Saunders wants to incorporate Young into the game situations is fine, but no question Nick, as team’s leading scorer, should be getting a bulk of minutes at the two guard spot once the regular season is in full swing.
MOBLEY: Nick Young is a scorer, and I expect him to find ways to score whether his shot (or his conditioning) is where it needs to be or not. Flip should make Jordan Crawford the starter and Young his sixth man. Whomever is hot in the fourth quarter gets to stay on the floor with Wall. If they are both hot, keep them both on (Young can play the three). And if they are both off their game, let’s hope Wall, Blatche or someone else picks up the slack.
WEIDIE: I’m not going to expect Young to show any type of passing competency off the bat, but should he get around 20 minutes or so of playing time, I want to see at least two spot-up long distance jumpers set up by a teammate (hopefully three-pointers) and about three rebounds. If Nick can, for some bizarre reason, set an aggressive tone on the boards, his teammates will surely follow, right? (Once they get over their surprise.) The starting two position is Young’s to take, but that does not mean that he doesn’t have to earn it.