Opening Statements: Wizards vs. Bulls, Playoff Game 4–Vines & Emails from the Abyss | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs. Bulls, Playoff Game 4–Vines & Emails from the Abyss

Updated: April 27, 2014

Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls - Dec. 29, 2012 - Truth About

The tectonic plates of the pixel landscape are shifting. The result? Depending on how aggressively one’s knee jerks, somewhere between a 3.0 and an 8.9 on the Richter pixelscale.

As nice as it would have been to sweep the Bulls (and it would have been nice), no one reasonably expected such a thing to occur at the outset of the series. If the Wizards win this afternoon, and take a 3-1 lead back to Chicago with three consecutive chances to close the game out, this sweep business will seem like the most ancient and irrelevant of news items.

D.C. is technically no longer rising, at least not in the momentum sense. But hey, Lazarus, is that you? Come out of that slipshod earth. You don’t belong there.

Let’s get it, via emails between myself (@ConorDDirks) and Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

Teams: Wizards vs. Bulls
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Television: CSN/ESPN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW 99.1 FM
Spread: Wizards by 1.5 points.

April 27, 6:16 p.m.

Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):

Hello Sean.

We’re friends (right?), so let’s promise each other something. Let’s promise to not just make this back-and-forth a series of protracted “Nooooooooooooooooo”s regarding Nene’s passing from the world of the eligible. It is, and will be, the biggest story, and that’s OK. But we have a duty to—ah, forget it.


I feel better.

I think the Wizards can survive without Nene, despite little evidence of that belief. Wait a second, is this what it means to have faith? #Pray4Conor. Nene missed Chicago’s blowout win at Verizon Center late in the season, and the Wizards lost a close one after he was ejected, but they could have won. They could have.

The bigger fear for me is that Jimmy Butler, previously tranquilized by the numbness of his limbs after too many cycles of Tom Thibodeau’s meat grinder conveyor belt, will wake up. That 3-pointer will be hard to forget.

What was your take on the confrontation? Was Nene just trying to proselytize? What blasphemy did Butler speak to deserve Nene’s inquisition? My favorite part: The fight looked like something out of Wiley H. Bates middle school, my alma mater, where two dudes just lean into each other, increasingly closer until they are parallel with the floor and say things like Butler did…”What do you want to do?”


April 26, 7:55 p.m.

Sean Fagan (@McCarrick):

Nene has always had a tempestuous nature on the court, but his ire has normally been reserved for those officiating or at the universe for another part of his body breaking down despite his best efforts to remain intact. For Nene to completely lose it and  forget to turn the other cheek leads me to one of two conclusions: that Andray Blatche is practicing dark rites somewhere in Brooklyn and took over Nene’s body and mind on Friday (which would explain the poor shooting performance) or that Nene had his own Zinedine Zidane head-butt moment (or a Carmelo Anthony “Honey Nut Cheerios” moment) in which Butler said something so over the line and offensive that Nene’s mind exploded in a million tiny pixels and thus we were treated to two mountain goats butting heads.


After careful consideration, I think the latter situation makes a lot of sense though it would be fairly surprising considering that Nene has been playing dudes like KG for years without resorting to getting into petty slap fights. The fact that Jimmy Butler was so successfully able to troll Nene just demonstrates what an A+ irritant he is to play against. Nene has been trolling young players all year (see: Cousins, Demarcus) so maybe this is karmic retribution from the Lord. Because while I may #Pray4Nene, Nene is certain not #AlwaysHumble. If you were to get religion at this point, it might be nice to ask the Big Man if he would be capable of calling some moving screens on Joakim Noah. Because that really would be a miracle.

So now we have obviously reached a fork in the narrative. Do Nene’s actions take away from the miraculousness of the Easter Game? Are we really facing the prospect of 35-plus minutes of Trevor Booker in a playoff game? Further, where the hell were Nene’s teammates during this entire series of events? It almost looked like a staged kabuki drama which the Bulls planned, as they seemed completely willing to sacrifice a bishop for a queen.


April 26, 10:05 p.m.

Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):

Maybe this is just an elaborate plot to avoid playing injured without alerting Marcin Gortat, who would probably cry a mechano-pixelated tear and call Nene too big to complain (which for a guy with 3 percent body fat is almost as subtly cruel as making brownies for the class and then lying about eating one before you came in).

Karma? I don’t think Nene’s deity incorporated that concept into the good book. Then again, I don’t think Nene was necessarily in a WWJD state of mind, either. Let’s move on.

John Wall looked good scoring the ball, which concerns me, because my assumption was … yeah, the Wizards are scoring, but if Wall ever goes off, it could get ugly for the Bulls. Maybe that’s still true, with the notable exception being an historic Mike Dunleavy game. Can we clone Trevor Ariza? Can he somehow guard Augustin AND Dunleavy?

Welcome to the pantheon of Wizard-killers. I’m your host, Phil Pressey.

I’m thinking of a Wilco song, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” … which certainly has applied to the Wizards basically always. But I’m really only thinking about it in the sense of the title, and also maybe of the one song on that album that affectionately referred to Jesus as “honey.”

So, hit me with a theme song for the next game. And also, hit me with your Bulls-killer of the future, which means Game 4.


April 26, 10:41 p.m.

Sean Fagan (@McCarrick):

It’s funny that you mention this but Wizards vis a vis music is something that has been floating through my head all year. Now, I’m not going to go ahead and just throw out Wale, because honestly you could take him and Soulja Boy and drop them off in Reno and I would be a happy camper. But three picks for the coming game come to mind right off the top of my head:

John Wall (Spoon – “Quincy Street Punk Episode”)


You seem concerned about John Wall’s faith in his offense, to which I respond to you with this early Spoon song which basically sums up what I believe John Wall is capable of doing to the Bulls on Sunday afternoon. We are about to reach MAXIMUM HATER LEVEL 9 if Wall doesn’t go super-duper-nova in a game without any obvious flaws that spoil the performance. (Oh the free throws…) You can go back to the Mesozoic era of Wall and find a lot of criticism (some written by me) about how Wall’s shoddy defense basically allowed opposing point guards to go off at will. If you think that Wall is going to be remembered as the guy who let D.J. Augustin torch him, well I live next to a fine bridge that I can sell you at a low, low price.

Bradley Beal (A Tribe Called Quest – “Electric Relaxation”)


Bradley Beal: also primed to gore the Bulls, only in a much chiller fashion. I don’t think the Bulls really have an answer for him, besides Kirk Hinrich being a minor irritant much like that neighbor Wilson who was always giving po-mouthed advice in “Home Improvement.” The only thing stopping Beal from having another Dunleavy-esque performance appears to be how the wind and tides are behaving on any given day. Speaking of which….

Marcin Gortat (The Drones – “Shark Fin Blues”)


This is the true answer you have been looking for and the song that encapsulates both the player I think will step up on Sunday as well an accurate description of the circumstances the Wizards currently find themselves in. The sharks are circling, Wizards fans feel a bit drunk and seasick and the people are worried that the boat may have a hole below the waterline. In steps the Polish Hammer, who throughout the season appeared to take ‘let down’ games much more personally than his teammates. I predict Gortat goes off for at least 25, gets in one shoving match and exchanges dap with a besuited Nene. After all, his future presidency in Poland probably rides on this series.

Speaking of animals (sharks or otherwise) what spirit animal do you want to see the Wizards invoke for Game 4? The panda seems to obvious and too cute to for the Wizards to effectively channel (though they are just overgrown raccoons) and while Trevor Ariza reminds me of a doped up koala, that too doesn’t seem to be the proper signal for the aggression that the Wizards will need to pull off a miracle without their prophet. What say you? Cockatrice? Charging badger?


April 27, 10:13 a.m.

Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):

Pandas are mean, Sean. Have you ever tried to hug one? Maul city.

But you’re right, the public’s gaze has all but castrated the claw-happy panda, and to the extent that spirit animals are anthropomorphic extensions of human desires, codes, and motivations, the panda is inappropriate.

I’m going with dolphins for the spirit animal I’d most like the Wizards to evoke in a ramshackle sweat lodge constructed in the pre-game locker room. For a few different reasons.

  1. They communicate well. The Wizards, without Nene, will have to somehow instruct Trevor Booker how to play better defense. I’d like to see them employ some sort of Tony Allen-maneuver. Allen has, twice at least in these playoffs, pushed a teammate, mid-play, into better defensive position.
  2. They’re fast (25 miles per hour, top speed) and have stamina (100 miles per day). The Bulls have the latter, playing high-intensity ball almost every play. The Wizards are less consistent. Which is what made the first two games so utterly thrilling in the afterglow. It seemed like they had finally found a way to stay locked in, starting in the third quarter of Game 1. Washington, with Wall and Booker, have such good speed. I’d like to see them actually use it. So far, Washington is tied (with Chicago, for best-of-seven reasons) for the slowest pace in the playoffs. It plays right into Chicago’s modus operandi, and while the Wizards were a mid-paced team in the regular season (19 of 30), they also have a tendency to play to what the defense gives them.
  3. Dolphins know how to have fun. Yeah, Nene’s gone, and his ejection may have been the larval moment of a #SoWizards radioactive butterfly, but even without Nene, the Wizards out-class Chicago in talent. It’s a testament to Chicago’s current players and their coach that they have managed to win so many games without Deng and Rose. The Wizards are all smiles when they’re running, nailing 3-pointers, and fucking folks up on defense. Force those three issues, and the fun will come naturally. Playing your game is the chicken, and smiles are the eggs. And we all know that eggs inspire Bradley Beal’s smoothness. Wait, huh?

I say the Wizards win a close one, 94-92.

What say you?


April 27, 11:09 a.m.

Sean Fagan (@McCarrick):

I guarded Sing Sing at the National Zoo during his dotage. Trust me, when black and white raccoon monsters get old, they get mean. Kind of like Prof. Andre Miller.

I’ve discussed before how the Wizards have “conditioned” their fans to expect the worst and I think that the Game 3 loss, with all its accompanying bells and whistles has set off the panic button and people are already beginning to write their eulogies. However, I have to constantly remind myself that these are not the same Wizards of the last 15 years and we are looking at an entirely different breed of dolphin. The Yangzhe River Dolphin is extinct, but this new exciting porpoise/manatee hybrid that the Wizards has become over the course of the season has been fun and exciting to watch. Like a manatee, the Wizards just have to sit their and hope the Bulls jet skis bounce into them, because I don’t see another Mike Dunleavy nuclear eruption. Porpoises are less yappy than their more famous cousins, but are just as intelligent if slightly more reserved.

The Bulls are hoping to continue to bottle the magic that won them Game 3 (Dunleavy + Augustin = narrow win) but I don’t see that formula playing out out over the next two games. The Bulls are selling you magic beans (complete with planting instructions) and it demonstrates the straws the Bulls are clutching to if Mike Wilbon is writing national columns proclaiming Dunleavy as the X-Factor going forward. Prof. Miller isn’t going to gag tonight, Martell Webster finally stopped playing At the Drive In records at full volume, Drew Gooden will be less rusty and Trevor Booker will eat about 10 packs of Fun Dip to make sure he is properly hyped for this game. Even if all four of those important pieces somehow fall apart, the Bulls still have to contend with Wall and Beal. I just think the offensive weapons are going to prove to be too much for the Bulls to handle and continue to hope that Jimmy Butler somehow defies all statistical logic with his jumper.

I’m sure that Thibodeau and Noah have been reading their Dylan Thomas prior to the game, but even the evocation of final stands will not be enough to stop the Wizards taking the game 102-89.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Nene and Jimmy Butler are Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior [via @TheNoLookPass]

Nene and Jimmy Butler are Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior [via @TheNoLookPass]

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.