D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Warriors, Game 31
2014? Halfway down the pit, between the grass (always greener) cross-section near the top and the very bottom, which is of course filled with rocks (as most rock bottoms are) and hasn’t been seen, or felt digging into bones, since 2-7, or 9-13, or whatever last losing streak this team, whose tawdry combination of effort and ability much resembles a schizophrenic, demon-possessed seesaw, has put itself through.
So now, the Warriors, who my colleague will later point out may be the best team in the NBA at full strength, come into town. What have the Western W’s done since they arrived on the East Coast for a long road trip? Not much, really. They’ve just beaten everyone they’ve faced, including the NBA champion Miami Heat.
Teams: Wizards vs. Warriors
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, Washington, D.C.
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Warriors favored by 3.5 points.
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: Let’s break down what I consider a compliment followed by a backhanded compliment followed by a hope a man never knew he had until it had become irrelevant in the wake of its own deflation.
LeBron said: “I mean, if you can find a better shooter than him right now, especially with the way he handles the ball — and the light that he has, it’s more than green, it’s fluorescent — you just hope that he misses.”
How close is LeBron’s qualifier of Curry’s shooting as being aided by a “green light” to Kobe Bryant’s words about the Agent of Nihilism, Gilbert Arenas, after Gil dropped 60 points on the Lakers? “He doesn’t seem to have much of a conscience. I really don’t think he does. Some of the shots he took tonight, you miss those, and they’re just terrible shots. Awful. You make them and they’re unbelievable shots.”
@ArmstrongWinter: This is a clever attempt to link one incredibly unique shooter to another aided by quotes from all-time greats (Kobe ridiculing another player’s shot selection is pretty, pretty good, by the way), and I appreciate any ‘Agent Zero’ reference as much as the next guy that was a gunner-loving teenager in the mid-2000s. Having said that, you’ll be supremely disappointed by my answer: there’s just no link from Curry to Arenas.
For all the cold-blooded scoring, jumpers made from College Park, and Icarus-reminding basketball chutzpah, Arenas was never the offensive player Curry is today. Factor in their contracts (both mind-blowing but in different ways) and wildly disparate off-court personas, and the only correlation between Arenas and Curry is that they’re both high-scoring guards.
P.S. - There’s also the distinct possibility that I’m trying really, really hard not to see the relatively obvious—deep shooter, underrated passer, feel for the moment #leaguepassalert worthy—connections between them whatsoever. The way Gil’s career ended wasn’t right for a player of his awesome, awesome talent. I shudder to think Steph—with those glass ankles—could suffer a similar fate, and refuse to even second-hand entertain such an idea.
[Ed. Note: The more I watch James Harden, the more I am reminded of Gilbert Arenas. So this is your answer, I think. -Kyle W.]
Q #2: David Lee, despite being a fantasy basketball wunderkind, has often been noted as one of the least effective defensive rim protectors in the NBA.
But after his performance against the Heat, I noticed that many Golden State fans had re-directed their ire toward Harrison Barnes. How has your perception of Barnes changed this season compared to how you saw him during his rookie campaign?
@ArmstrongWinter: To be blunt, it hasn’t. Those who followed the Warriors during the regular season last year saw a far different Barnes than a national audience did in the playoffs. The rigid, timid athlete with a weak handle he’s been these last couple months? That’s who HB was for the vast majority of 2012-13, but his breakout performance—spurred by an injury to David Lee and a resulting strategical switch to small-ball—against the Nuggets in April made us all forget his relative rookie struggles.
It bears mentioning that I’ve never been the biggest Barnes fan, and have taken flak for a supposed ‘bias’ in the past. But instead of sunshine-pumping optimism (THE NEXT PAUL PIERCE!!!! was a real thing that happened in The Bay last year) that befits other bloggers, I just understand his limits. Don’t get it twisted—Barnes still has the potential to develop into one of the league’s most versatile and valuable two-way forwards, and will play a crucial role for the Warriors this season. Delusions of some future franchise player, thankfully, are long gone.
Q #3: The Warriors are the Wizards of the West, except better at every position. True? False? Why or why not?
@ArmstongWinter: False, but I see what you did there. Have to like the stylistic and injury-related comparisons between Beal-Thompson, Porter-Barnes, and Nene-Bogut, but an organizational-wide analogy falls a bit flat. Randy Wittman still coaches the Wizards, right? The Wizards, despite John Wall, are one of the league’s slowest teams, right? And besides, the Warriors traded Andris Biedrins’ tan this summer; last I checked, Washington still employs everyone’s (least) favorite European big man.
[Ed. Note: per Basketball-Reference.com, the Warriors are ranked third in the NBA in “pace,” the Wizards are ranked 21st. -Kyle W.]
Over/Unders! with @ArmstrongWinter:
Over/Under 50.5 wins for the Golden State Warriors this season?
Over. Golden State’s #FullSquad could be the best in the league. Seriously.
Over/Under 9.5 seconds of cringing when I tell you the Wizards could have had Stephen Curry had they not traded away their draft pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye?
Over and over and over. So many teams missed on Curry. Hell, David Khan and the Wolves did it twice.
Over/Under 1.5 fingers crossed that Andre Iguodala is still as excellent as he is today in 2017, when Golden State loses another first-round pick?
Under. Yes, Iguodala runs, jumps, and slides his feet like a disgruntled, cat-foot hungry alien from District 9. That crazy athleticism makes it easy to overlook what makes him such an effective player, though: intellect, court sense, and a ‘clutch gene’ as close as it gets to real. Iguodala won’t be the defensive monster in 2017 that he is today, but will still make enough of an impact to justify the price—financial and otherwise—Golden State paid to acquire him. And if the Warriors win the West between now and then (a dream that’s ever-vivid by the day), it won’t even matter.
Over/Under 1.5 All-Stars from the Golden State Warriors this season?
Under. Curry’s a lock after being neglected last season, and David Lee’s reputation as a net-zero overall contributor—he’s done a lot this year to change that, by the way—will keep him from midseason recognition. In the woeful East, though, he’d certainly earn a nod. Same could be said for Iguodala and Thompson, too.
Philosophical Question! with @ArmstrongWinter:
Is fluorescence the next step once transcension through a green light is accomplished?
@ArmstrongWinter: Kansas City Chiefs-related heartbreak already had me on the verge of tears; all it took was the supreme depth of this question to coax them from my eyes like water from broken levees. Assuming this query had basketball in mind as opposed to the emotional abyss of my soul, I actually prefer ultraviolet/black light to fluorescent in describing transcension from green. There’s something far more ominous about that hazy, purple glow than the alternative cringe-inducing white. Or, I could be subconsciously choosing black to more accurately convey the current and coming states of my cold, nearly-lifeless heart. Who knows?
Q #4: He said/he said?
@ConorDDirks: The Wizards aren’t exactly pointing fingers. It’s more unilateral than that. Randy Wittman had this to say after the embarrassing shellacking the Wizards suffered at the hands of the world-beating post-Rudy-trade Toronto Raptors:
“Sometimes you can get… You know, you feel good about yourself. We’ve been playing pretty good, so maybe now it’s time to focus on ‘me’ a little bit. Let me get my numbers up a little bit instead of worrying about how we need to go about it. Numbers will take care of themselves. The right people will score the basketball that needs to score the basketball.”
John Wall did not agree. His disagreement was expressed in a way that if not resembling grace at least didn’t rise to hostility.
“No, I don’t see that at all. I think we’re playing the right way, we’re playing as a team. You can’t say that. I feel like we try to play as a team, we try to play the right way.”
He can say that, and he did, Jimmy! In Wall’s defense, most of Washington’s losses, and more pointedly, most of Washington’s effort lapses this season, can’t be credited to him. But against the Raptors, Wall didn’t maintain the intensity (yes, I hate myself for writing that as much as you hate me for reading it) he can achieve when he’s completely locked in.
Historically, Wall is excitable, and excellent, when confronted with perceived slights and indignities. Historically, Wall does not get along with Golden State’s Klay Thompson…(whispers, whispers, Go to the basket, and I’ll knock your @$$ out, echo, echo). Hopefully a match-up against Thompson’s Warriors is enough to kick a pebble of ire into Wall’s koi pond of tranquility, and the ripples reach the lilies representing his teammates in this awful metaphor.