Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bucks, Game 79 | Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bucks, Game 79

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Updated: April 12, 2014

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A gift. Two gifts. From the basketball gods? From the random number generator? From the Bobcats and Pacers. As Comcast SportsNet anxiously, and indecently, displayed news of a Kemba Walker injury, and later, the scores of Bobcats-Celtics, and Pacers-Heat (the broadcasting equivalent of “See, they didn’t ruin everything…”), the Wizards took heart. Infused with the knowledge that four good minutes against Orlando could mean four (or more) slightly more winnable games in the playoffs, Washington beat back the Magic and leapfrogged Charlotte for the sixth seed. Well, it was more like they were a frog, and Charlotte was a frog, and then some punk kid came to the pond and poked Charlotte with a stick, which seemed like no big deal but the skin of frogs has a respiratory function and the puncture wound from the skin caused that poor frog to die; the Wizards were happy to raise their eyebrows and proudly step on the other frog’s body as they moved on.

Will Washington’s three losses to Charlotte and brief brush with the seventh seed yield a teachable moment? Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver once wrote:

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

Poetry claptrap. But the Wizards, having been given the gift of darkness for years on end as unavoidable losses mounted to more talented teams, should understand better the converse value of winning. Sure, the playoffs are a definite. And the playoffs are a young person’s “time to shine.” But how you get there matters, and it certainly has a bearing on where you end up. The Wizards won’t scale the entire mountain this season, but you hope they’ll try. Beating the Bucks (if they can) while the Bobcats play the Sixers is no notable accomplishment, but will be more meaningful today than it was before yesterday’s win and Bobcats loss.

Everything’s eventual, and the season will most likely end before the team, and its fans, are ready for it. For now, go Wizards.

Joining me today is K.L. Chouinard (@AnaheimAmigos), editor of ESPN Truehoop’s Milwaukee Bucks blog, Bucksketball. Let’s get it.


Teams: Wizards vs Bucks
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Wizards favored by 11 points.


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Q #1: The people who know me best know that I love John Henson.

In a season where both Ilyasova and Sanders, some of his presumed competition for minutes, have been inconsistent or absent, why hasn’t Henson emerged as a bright, shining star? I believed in him!

@AnaheimAmigos: Henson does all of the box score things and none of the out-of-box-score things. He can score, rebound, block shots, and he’s even started passing well in the past couple of weeks. On the other hand, he doesn’t box out, make quick rotations on defense, or set picks without getting in the way of his own man. 

It took all of Larry Drew’s willpower not to call Henson sluggish or lethargic after the most recent loss.

Q #2: Speaking of Ilyasova, we in Washington D.C. have suffered through near countless “Ghostface” trade rumors over the last several years.

Last season, he started slow and then caught fire after the All-Star break, but this season, he was injured early, never found his shot, and generally looked like a lug when he did play. Will Ersan Ilyasova, just 26 years old, ever be able to look his contract square in the eyes again and tell it “I deserve you”?

@AnaheimAmigos: Ilyasova possesses a number of decent qualities. He’s smart and he’s an extremely good shooter. He rebounds well and he is surprisingly strong for a 6’9″ power forward with a smallish frame. That said, though, he hurt his ankle and fell apart this season because he doesn’t have athleticism to spare in a league that is already much more athletic than he is.

He could be a really great fourth-best player on a team that could create shots for him. By the time the Bucks have enough talent to make him their fourth-best player, his contract will have expired.

Q #3: July 13, 1848: You have reached the Big Blue Crossing. You chose to ford the river. You decided to hunt. You brought back 88 pounds of food.

July 15, 1848: A thief stole 6 oxen from your wagon. You had a wagon wheel break but were able to replace it from supplies. July 17, 1848: You’ve lost the trail. What is the way forward for the 2014-beyond Milwaukee Bucks?

@AnaheimAmigos: Send Larry Drew to fill up the water tanks, pack up the caravan and leave while he’s away on his task. Stop at the Lawrence, KS outpost to pick up supplies and convince Andrew Wiggins to join the travel party. Then discover a gold mine and use the proceeds to build a new arena and keep the team in town.

Over/Unders! with @AnaheimAmigos:

Over/under 730,035.5 thoughts crossing through the Milwaukee collective unconscious this season which resemble “at least we’ve got Giannis”?

Over. Wow. 730,035.5 thoughts is a big number for one season. That’s 4479 per day since the season started, or to look at it another way, it’s 186 thoughts per hour. I mean, that’s 3 thoughts/minute. So I pretty much have to take the over. Giannis is all we have. It’s gotten to the point that people (head coach included) think Jeff Adrien is part of the answer.

Over/under 49.5 percent of Milwaukee Bucks fans that stand by Larry Sanders’ ill-timed, reductive, but otherwise defensible argument on why the stigma of a marijuana suspension is unfair?

Yes. Now pass me something I can smoke.

Over/under 0.5 regrets over trading Brandon Jennings to Detroit?

Under. Do you ever use negative numbers in your over/unders? If not, this one would have been a good time to start.

Philosophical Question! with @AnaheimAmigos:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has desperately urged the planet to ban human reproductive cloning until safety issues are resolved. But tell me, sir, what’s your price? How many Khris Middleton clones would it take for you to look the other way?

@AnaheimAmigos: Zero? Having exactly one Khris Middleton is nice enough. More probably wouldn’t help. He’s an accurate shooter, but doesn’t add much else. I can’t think of a game other than the Bucks’ last visit to DC where he made the difference in a Milwaukee win. (To be fair, it’s a short list.) I believe that my comment from that game was that he looked more like Glen Rice than Glen Rice, Jr. to the point where Sarah Palin was starting to get a small case of the vapors.