Opening Statements: Wizards at Bulls, Playoff Game 1–Vines & Emails From The Abyss
The playoffs are a new season, some say. I say they’re the playoffs, but what do I know? In either case, in honor of the playoffs, and in honor of lines in the sand being not so much etched as clearly demarcated (and lined with dynamite, given the heightened stakes), we will not welcome a Bulls blogger to talk about the Bulls. Instead, Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and I (@ConorDDirks) have corresponded in preparation for game one, and that correspondence is memorialized below, along with a generous helping of Wizards-Bulls Vines.
Teams: Wizards vs Bulls
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: United Center, Chicago, IL
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Bulls favored by 4.5 points.
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Playoffs? Playoffs. I’ve been thinking about my favorite moments of this season in anticipation of those memories being replaced by better (or, worse) memories in the next few weeks. First off, yes. I’m getting sentimental.
For me, it’s Nene’s game-winner against the Pelicans. Perhaps an odd selection, but it was perfect. Winning the game with barely any time left on a dunk? Bold choice. When you can barely push the ball over the top and have a tendency to terrify rims across the league with your musclepower and bruhforce, it makes for a great, and unlikely, moment.
His smile after that game got me through some dark times.
I have definitely spent more time hoping other teams lose over the past several years than taking satisfaction in Wizards wins. And the New York Knickerbockers have been a natural target. So both wins in Madison Square Garden en route to a three-game season series sweep of the Knicks stand out to me.
The first came on Dec. 16 and ended a Wizards four-game losing streak that was going down in the worst of ways. Two losses were at home to a bad Bucks team and a depleted Nuggets squad; another was an OT loss via an Al Horford buzzer-beater; and the last was a woodshed beating in D.C. at the hands of the Clippers. That NY win sparked the Wiz to a 5-1 close-out of the 2013 slate with four of those victories coming on the road.
The second win over the Knicks was attended en vivo by yours truly (and the fiancee) in New York. We consumed pre-game beverages, we wore our Wizards gear, and on several occasions I broke out the patented Weidie loud clap that cut through the silent angst of Knicks fans (whose team had entered the night tied with the Hawks for the 8-seed in the East).
Especially sweet was the fact that the surprisingly polarizing Bradley Beal scored the game-winner in both contests. Still—and it’s OK if this is perfectly sad-sounding—but those instances of Big Panda sweetness paled in comparison to the sadness of Knicks fans over Vine and in person.
But enough of these other non-playoff fools, aren’t we here to talk about the Bulls? Where would you say that Chicago fans rank on the ‘crazy’ scale in the NBA, and could that be heightened by an angst over Rose? Will such even make a difference? And do you anticipate a Chief Keef-Wale fued (and should we try to create one on Twitter)?
Involving Wale as a representative of #WizardsNation in any capacity is a questionable decision. Not that Chief Keef is involved in shakes of the great variety; it’s more a matter of principle … we can do better than Wale.
As for creating beef on Twitter: the process might dishonor the cow. Then again, dragging a Bull through the mud may not be the worst thing Wale has done this week.
Here’s my crazy scale:
- Cavs (more because of their willingness to man the ramparts in supplication to their stars)
- Lakers (I mean, not EVERYONE is possessed by manifest destiny)
Chicago fans seem perpetually on the brink of disclaiming any allegiance to the team while also constantly overrating and feeding off of their teams’s past glory like an overweight basement dwelling succubus in BDSM garb.
It’s a little sad, really. This Chicago team would be a championship challenger with Derrick Rose. Can you imagine the Wizards without Wall in the playoffs? Would they have made it to the dance without him? I say nay.
Conversely, could you imagine the playoffs WITH Eric Maynor? If the Gortat trade saved Grunfled’s job then I might say that the Maynor trade allowed Randy to keep on #WittmanFacing. Well, not entirely true, as the Wiz were well past mended after a 2-7 start with Maynor thusly benched, the hands on his #MaynorTime clock ripped right off and stuffed up G-Wiz’s ass. The Gortat move was reactionary, out of necessity, but finding a way to ship Maynor and Jan Vesely and getting legitimate rotation value in return wins the “Swept Under The Rug Disaster Avoidance Award of the Year.” Maynor was officially signed to a two-year contract on July 10, had played his way out of the rotation into DNP-CD land by Dec. 10, and found himself shipped out by Feb. 20. Where Amazing Happens.
Thus, Andre Miller is your x-factor’s x-factor. But with that changing of the backup point guard, hard to say how many games Wall would have had to miss for the Wizards to miss the playoffs (but he played all 82, rejoice!), but I would safely set that mark at 35 games.
Otherwise, unlike you, I don’t mind Wale’s music. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it quite often, even though there’s past record of me giving him shit because he hasn’t always been loyal to the Wizards. But, D.C. can do better, which is why right now the late, great Chuck Brown’s “Run Joe” is in my head with ‘John’ instead of ‘Joe.’
And now… Rapid Fire:
- Rank the top 5 Wizards x-factors.
- Over/Under on combined number of hair ties Nene and Joakim go thorough per game.
- Predict Randy Wittman’s “warmness factor” for his first in-game national television interview (with Popovich being a 1 and a Tele-Tubby being a 10).
- Who is more likely to gladly eat a full bowl of Krusty-O’s, Trevor Booker or Taj Gibson (as they will likely be matched up against each other off the bench once Nene ascends to the starting lineup on Easter Sunday)?
MaynorTime killed the Honzaman Star.
I know that both of us have our own, esoteric reasons for glaring suspiciously, even in retrospect, at that trade. But in the now, it has absolutely made the Wizards better. I’m not sure it was “fair” to debo the entirety of Brother Temple’s minutes, but playoff basketball teams rightfully care less about fair, and more about product and performance.
Top 5 Wizards x-factors?
- 3-point shooting. It’s not about volume. The Wizards have a thing about solidarity. When one of Webster, Ariza, or Beal is off, they’re normally ALL off. Which means the looks have to be clean against a Chicago team that is damned good at covering the corner 3-pointer. Because Chicago’s offense is so bad, a 3-pointer is all the more valuable of a tool.
- Angry John Wall. That look. You know it. The handslaps are a little more reckless, constant drives at the hoop, no-hesitation 3-pointers. He has tended to show up in comebacks, but I have to imagine he’ll be available to fuck everyone’s day up on a more consistent basis. And that’s a good thing.
- Wittman/Thibodeau. I know Randy said the plan doesn’t change, but doesn’t it have to change in the playoffs? Potentially seven games against the same team? Surely he’s just being coy.
- Gortat. It’s a little unnatural for Marcin to go up against a guy like Noah, but I like Gortat’s matchup. He has a way of avoiding contact that some might see as soft, but the truth is … he knows his shot. Noah is one of the best at the rim. Gortat’s reach around layup, rather than attempting to go over Noah, could be the key to winning the matchup.
- Will the Wizards care about home court? They haven’t this season. 22-19 on the road, 22-19 at home.
As for hair ties… Nene goes through five per game, but Noah is a grody dude. He’s wearing the same one till the Bulls get knocked out by the Wizards in game seven.
I think Wittman gets the big-stage jitters with some unfamiliar jackal’s faces crowding him for space, says something honest and insightful that makes me like him as a coach more than I currently do (which approaches nil), and thaws out a bit. 3.75.
Trevor Booker loves cereal and Jaheim. The latter is non sequitur. The former means he eats the Krusty-Os, even if they more closely resemble the “international cereals” he disclaimed in an interview with Steinberg.
Game one approaches, and quickly. A lot of the national talk revolves around Washington’s inexperience. Personally, I think that’s a bogus narrative. What are your top 5 bogus narratives going into this series?
Also, longtime Wizard-mocker (Nene might call him a “hater”) Bill Simmons picked the Wizards to win, and then to win the next series for a surprise Eastern Conference Finals appearance on his podcast. Does that make you feel dirty?
Bogus narratives? I’ll give you five bogus anti-narratives.
- The Bulls are good at team defense. Goes without saying. That said, you can’t tell me they are that great—and the numbers reflect such—when they have to roll out Mike Dunleavy, D.J. Augustin, and Carlos Boozer in the same lineup, which they do a great deal.
- Wizards in the NBA’s top-100 in minutes played: Wall (5), Ariza (25), Gortat (31), Beal (48). And now Bulls: Noah (15), Butler (39), Dunleavy (40), and Gibson (73). Not sure where I was going hear other than Thibs likes to wear out his players, Wittman probably wishes he could, and I’ll be curious to see which team manages playoff energy better.
- Maybe Brooklyn really didn’t want to face Chicago; they did win game one in Toronto, after all. But did they really want to align themselves with the Heat while giving the much-vaunted Bulls a path to the Conference Finals via whatever shitfest Indiana is bathing in? Just seems like an odd, false narrative.
Wait, are there really five whole bogus narratives? Or anti-narratives? Maybe I don’t pay enough attention to narratives. Fuck a narrative.
And no, it doesn’t sit comfortably with me that Simmons has chosen the Wizards to be his pet prediction. He and Joe House are the Giga Pets of Wizards fans. Not sure what this means, but yea.
So, how do we wrap this up?
By picturing Ernie Grunfeld in a convertible with the top down, hands nowhere near the wheel with both middle fingers up, screaming “Fuck it, I’m all in!”
Or maybe just recklessly hoping the Wizards beat a pretty good team. Wizards in seven.