[Lou Williams - photo: K. Weidie]
As I publish this post, the Wizards are down 52-40 to the Philadelphia 76ers at halftime. After a relatively decent first quarter where Washington outscored the Sixers 26-23 behind 11 points from Nick Young on 4-7 shooting and 10 points and five rebounds (three offensive) from JaVale McGee, things came more back to reality. Philadelphia out-scored the Wizards 29-14 in the second quarter. It’s not that Washington was wholly selfish as usual, they just found a way to bumble opportunity, even when Philadelphia gave them a couple chances with turnovers (six, leading to four Washington points). But the Wizards turned the ball over even more, giving it away 13 times leading to 21 Philadelphia points at the half. Below are some speakable quotes from Flip Saunders, Sixers coach Doug Collins, and notorious Wizards killer Lou Williams from before the game started.
Before the game Flip Saunders was asked how a coach sends the message that selfish basketball won’t be tolerated. Flip said:
“It’s a fine line because there are so many young guys. You don’t want them to play looking over their shoulders, that you’re going to take them out at every mistake. But I think that we probably have to be… that’s probably what has to happen, because we can’t… it’s not fair to the team, it’s not fair to them. We want to do aggressive-type things. If you’re playing aggressive offensively, and you’re taking good shots and you’re open, that’s different than taking a contested shot.”
Doug Collins on…
I asked Collins about the Wizards playing a lot one-on-one ball, something Saunders admitted to before the game that constantly plagues his team, saying “It’s like the harder we try, the faster we sink. It’s like being in quicksand,” and if Collins adjusts his defense because of the Wizards’ tendencies:
“First of all, this team has guys who can break you down off the dribble. And so the one thing you have to do is you have to keep those guys out of the paint, because it creates a chain reaction. When you get beat off the dribble, then what it does is somebody has to help. You gotta drive and kick, or if you help from your big, you have a little lob up at the rim with McGee or one of their big guys. And so our whole thing is people got to see jerseys. When they start to go, it’s never they’re playing against one of our guys, they’re playing against multiple people. And so when they look up, they don’t feel like there’s any place to go, and hopefully discourages them from wanting to do that.”
What about Lou Williams?
I asked him if he felt the Sixers would adjust their defense according to Washington’s one-on-one style of play?
“No, we stick to our principles. How we like to play, we like to put a lot of pressure on the basketball. We like to run two or three guys at whoever is trying to shoot the basketball, so the way that they play, the way they’ve been playing this far, you know, it kind of plays into our hand, but they have the ability to have three or four guys on the court that can go and get huge numbers. We still have to be aware of that.”
What does Flip Saunders think of going against the same team on back-to-back nights? He was asked:
“When I was in the CBA (Continental Basketball Association), usually the second night always leads to a lot of fights. To be honest, it led to a great amount of aggressiveness, as far as when we played back-to-back — usually it was in the same city. So I would think tonight’s probably going to be a little bit more chippy or aggressive.”
Finally, Lou Williams again…
I asked him if he thought the Wizards would come out aggressive, he said:
“I don’t suspect they’ll just sit back and let us beat them up. We’re not an aggressive team, they’re not an aggressive team, so I guess whoever throws the first punch is going to win that battle tonight. But, I don’t know man, with a game like this, we’re just going to go out there and try to do the same thing we did last night. We know that we’re going to get a great punch from them tonight, we just gotta continue to do what we do.”