LeBron James is in D.C. tonight to take on the Washington Wizards. He’s bringing some other guys with him, the Miami Heat, and they are favored by 13 points. The key for the Wizards is really if they choose to lose honorably or dishonorably. That’s what it boils down to (and containment, surely Randy Wittman is thinking, as he did versus the Knicks). Not saying the Wizards can’t win — there’s always an ‘any given night’ thing in the NBA – but it’s probably advisable that on this Friday night, Washington cleans the wound, bites down on a towel, and hopes the doctor extracts the bullet as soon as possible. For today’s 3-on-3 we have Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) of The Heat Index/ESPN.com, along with TAI’s Markus Allen (@mayminded) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Miami has already scored at least 50 points in the paint in nine games this season — a mark they hit 11 times all of last season. Washington has given up 50 or more points in the paint in six games this season. Against a likely frontline of JaVale McGee, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton, will the Heat ride roughshod over the Wizards defense to score at least 50 in the painted area? How much fight will the home team have?
HABERSTROH: The Heat will have a much easier time piercing the paint than they did on Wednesday against Dwight Howard, that’s for sure. McGee might block shots, but he’s nowhere near the type of presence as Howard. There are two kinds of points in the paint: points scored in the halfcourt and points scored on the break. The Heat have struggled recently generating the former. Something tells me the Wizards might be waking up a sleeping giant.
ALLEN: Given their record, the Wizards are not that bad in points allowed in the paint, coming in at 40.2 (20th in the league). JaVale McGee had two games last year against the Heat in which he had four blocks in each, one of those performances coming in a close game that Washington lost 94-95. If JaVale stays out of foul trouble, the Wizards can definitely hold them to under 50 points in the paint; if he gets into early foul trouble, due to contact from LeBron or D-Wade driving, then Kevin Seraphin will certainly not be able to hold it down.
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The Wizards and Knicks face off for the second time this season, the previous meeting coming in Washington, a 99-96 Knicks win (the Wizards have only one trip to New York on their schedule). Without much deliberation, let’s get into tonight’s 3-on-3, featuring John Kenney (@JohnBKenney) of KnickerBlogger.net, the TrueHoop Network’s Knicks blog, along with TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and myself, Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) When John Wall and Jeremy Lin (as a member of the Dallas Mavericks ) faced off in the 2010 NBA Summer League, Wall had trouble defending Lin (as did Lin with Wall). John went under a lot of screens and Jeremy made him pay. The Wizards won 88-82, thanks to 23 points from Cartier Martin, but Lin did score 11 fourth quarter points. Tonight will be the first meeting between the two since. Considering the environment (especially Lin’s recent boost into the limelight as the Knicks prepare to play Washington without Carmelo Anthony (groin), Amar’e Stoudemire (death in the family) and Baron Davis (presumably a beard-related injury or ailment otherwise)), how will this Wall-Lin matchup play out?
KENNEY: While many have focused on Lin’s offensive explosion, his defense has also been pleasantly surprising. Wall’s athleticism makes him a tough matchup to defend, but if Lin’s performances against Deron Williams and Devin Harris are any indication, he’ll do a fine job. (I also wouldn’t be surprised to see 6-foot-5 Iman Shumpert defend Wall at times.) And on offense, I expect Lin to score around 20 points, while delivering a number of nice assists to Tyson Chandler. The one concern should be that Lin must avoid foul trouble. If Lin is out for extended periods of the game, that means more Toney Douglas (currently in the worst slump of his career,) which helps explain why Lin played the entire 2nd, 3rd AND 4th quarters against the Jazz. Luckily, having Tyson defending the rim is a good safety net against Wall blow-bys.
MOBLEY: Based on the results of the last two Knicks victories, Lin will have to carry the offensive burden in order for his team to win–which is the equivalent of playing with house money. He’ll play loose and carefree. Coach Randy Wittman will tell Wall to run the offense and play within himself like he did against the Raptors. But Wall will struggle to balance that with his own competitive streak, and his numbers and overall game will suffer.
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Here we go again… Tonight’s Wizards-Raptors game is the third of four meetings between the two clubs. Washington and Toronto have split the 2011-12 series thus far, each team celebrating a decisive victory over the other — the average winning margin is 16 points. Although the Torontonians have been more successful on the road (5 wins) than the D.C. locals have been at home (3 wins) this season, the Raptors haven’t won a game at the Verizon Center since 2009. Consider heading to the game if you have a couple of hours to kill tonight: tickets can be scored for a buck! Raptorholic Sam Holako (@RapsFan) of ESPN TrueHoop/Raptors Republic joins TAI’s John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) for tonight’s 3-on-3 roundball roundtable. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Fact or Fiction: Rashard Lewis will score four or more points tonight, joining Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce as the only players in NBA history to have scored at least 15,000 points, grabbed 5,000 rebounds and hit 1,500 three-pointers in their careers. [UPDATE: Lewis is out versus the Raptors due to what is being called a sore right knee; Chris Singleton replaced him in the Wizards starting lineup.]
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Published in 2011-12 Wizards
, Toronto Raptors
Tags: aaron gray
, amir johnson
, demar derozan
, ed davis
, jamaal magloire
, james johnson
, jason kidd
, JaVale McGee
, jerryd bayless
, jordan crawford
, jose calderon
, kevin seraphin
, leandro barbosa
, linas kleiza
, Miami Heat
, paul pierce
, raptors republic
, rashard lewis
, sam holako
, steve nash
, Toronto Raptors
, trevor booker
Lob City comes to the District tonight… the highest highs and the lowest lows of the Wizards multiplied by the Los Angeles Clippers and divided by a 4-19 record against a 13-7 one. “I told them I’m pulling that cigarette out tonight,” said Wizards coach Randy Wittman before the game, referring to the very poor effort the Wizards gave in a loss to Toronto last night and how his team “fell off the wagon” back to poor habits. The coach is also going with Trevor Booker over Jan Vesely in the Wizards starting lineup. Talking to the Cook Book before the game, his focus will be keeping Blake Griffin away from the basket and on how the Wizards guard pick and rolls (Chris Paul runs a lot of them, Wittman admitted). What’s the key to stopping Paul on the P&Rs? “We got to make sure we stop the ball, make sure he can’t get in the lane. The more he’s in the lane, the more have to collapse, and the more the bigs are going to be open to throw the lob to,” said Booker. For tonight’s 3-on-3 drill we have Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) of ESPN TrueHoop/ClipperBlog, along with TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Three questions, three answers starts now…
1) What’s the No. 1 thing Chris Paul has that John Wall doesn’t, but really needs to get?
ARNOVITZ: Vision. When Paul has the ball in the half court, he’s thinking about one thing — where he is relationally to the other shotmakers on the court and those on the defense who can alter those shots. Wall is speedy, but like most people in their early 20s – apologies to Louis CK – he has no idea how to do the job yet. That will change.
MOBLEY: Since this is the Super Bowl weekend, I’ll start with a football analogy. Rookie running backs tend ignore their offensive line and to try to use their God-given athleticism to make a big play. Seasoned running backs patiently wait for the offensive line to open a hole (they may even rest their hands on the backs of the O-line while the play is unfolding) then they run right through. There’s an impatience to Wall’s game right now that manifests itself via the one-man fast breaks, the rushed jumpers, and the exasperation with his teammates. Chris Paul, with talented teammates in Los Angeles and less talented teammates in New Orleans, is a patient point guard. He lets the game come to him, he sets up teammates, and if he’s needed to do more, he does that too.
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Published in 2011-12 Wizards
, LA Clippers
Tags: blake griffin
, Caron Butler
, chauncey billups
, chris paul
, JaVale McGee
, John Wall
, Randy Foye
, Randy Wittman
, trevor booker
Players and coaches are programmed not to admit overconfidence publicly, but in the crevices of their locker room or practice courts, the Wizards and Raptors have to be looking at tonight’s game and thinking to themselves, “We are definitely winning.” In their last three games, the Wizards defeated the lowly Bobcats, came close to defeating the Orlando Magic (they aren’t playing well now, but they still have Dwight F. Howard), and the Chicago Bulls (arguably the best team in the league). Facing the Raptors, a team that gave the Wizards their first victory this season, would seem to be an easier task. The Raptors were just thoroughly whipped by the Celtics in Boston, just one night after being whipped by the Hawks in Toronto. They have to be thinking that their confidence can and will be restored against the lowly Wizards — a team they already have extra motivation to defeat after losing in Washington on January 10th. Before we see which franchise can take advantage of the other, Ryan McNeill (@ryanmcneill) of Hoops Addict, TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) and yours truly, Rashad Mobley (@rashad20), will go 3-on-3 starting right now.
#1) During his six-year tenure as president/GM of the Toronto Raptors, Bryan Colangelo enjoyed some success before the departure of Chris Bosh, but since then, he has been criticized for his draft failures, the Raptors’ lack of a defensive mindset, and his puzzling free agent signings (most recently Jamaal Magloire and Anthony Parker). During his nine-year tenure as Wizards team president, Ernie Grunfeld is credited with building playoff teams during the Gilbert Arenas era, but since then his moves (or lack thereof) have the Wizards mired in something worse than mediocrity. Both GMs are now asking their fans to trust in the development of their young players, and to be patient with the rebuilding process once again. Which GM deserves to be relieved of their duties?
McNEILL: Maybe I’m being a homer, but I’m voting for Grunfeld. Besides lucking into John Wall with an easy pick, what has he done to warrant trust during his time in Washington? Colangelo was burned by Bosh, but there isn’t anyone surrounding the team who honestly thought he should have dealt him before that summer. Even the drafting of Bargnani is looking “safe” considering his development and how that draft class is now shaking out. Again, this is a homer pick, but consider Bosh was in place, and LaMarcus Aldridge (2nd pick after Bosh in 2006) was a redundant piece, so the only other player who might have been a better fit is Rudy Gay. So, sorry, I’m not buying the argument that five years with Brandon Roy (6th pick) is better than the decade Toronto will get with Bargnani.
MOBLEY: I want to say Colangelo, because those rabid, supportive Raptors fans have watched Vince Carter and Chris Bosh lead the franchise to the playoffs, and now they have to watch Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon lead them to the lottery. But Grunfeld is trying to rebuild the Wizards franchise into a contender for the third time in nine years, and everyone who started with him from Gilbert Arenas to Eddie Jordan to Flip Saunders is gone. The official rebuild will begin when he follows suit.
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Look, Dwight Howard has long known that he does not want to be a member of the Orlando Magic past this season, so does it matter that his current team is in such disarray, losers of four games in a row with Howard calling out his teammates for effort? Probably not. In fact, it likely prompts GM Otis Smith even more to make a move, but it doesn’t make him any less desperate. (Read: this painfully drags on for Orlando up to the March 15 trade deadline… Have a fun next six weeks Magic fans!) So with Baby Dwight wanting a cure-all change of venue, but not able to cure-all as Superman himself, his team takes on the lowly Washington Wizards tonight, with Howard likely preparing to be as proud as a schoolyard bully (Orlando is favored by 10 points). This 3-on-3 drill prior to possibly just one of Howard’s last 23 games in a Magic uniform includes Nate Drexler (@natedrex) of TrueHoop Network blog MagicBasketball.net, along with TAI’s John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) and yours truly, Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Which stat is more surprising? That the Washington Wizards have a higher offensive rebound rate (ORB%) than the Orlando Magic (0.261 ORB% compared to 0.259 for Orlando; league average is 0.264)? NOTE: WAS eFG% = 0.442, 29th in NBA; ORL eFG% = 0.495, 9th in NBA)….
OR, that JaVale McGee is shooting worse on free-throws than Dwight Howard? (McGee is at 0.433 this season, 0.600 for his career; Howard is at 0.460 this season, 0.592 for his career.)
DREXLER: This is tough, because neither of these surprise me all that much. I suppose JaVale getting out sniped by Dwight from the charity stripe takes the cake, though. Look, when you have two bigs who shoot 60-percent and below for their careers, no amount of badness should catch you off guard, but McGee is getting close to 30-percent land! The biggest surprise of all is that no matter how hard I try to convince myself that JaVale McGee has star potential it just isn’t so. Guy sure is athletic, though. Why is it that athletic guys can’t shoot free throws?
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Chicago Bulls in town, not the Charlotte Bobcats. Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton? Back for Chicago. Luol Deng? Out for a bit. Andray Blatche? Questionable. President Obama? Nope. The last time people expected Washington to lose this much (aside from pretty much all the time) was the Oklahoma City Thunder game. The Wizards somehow won that one. Chicago is favored by nine points on the road this evening. Should you get any ideas? Probably not. Chicago has the second best Defensive Rating in the NBA (97.4 points allowed per 100 possessions)… the Philadelphia 76ers are best (94.6 DRtg), and we all know how games against the Sixers work out for Washington. Nonetheless, let’s do the 3-on-3 drill… featuring Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak.com along with TAI’s John Converse Townsend and Kyle Weidie. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Derrick Rose will be walking into the Verizon Center with the weight of Sunday night’s loss to the Miami Heat (partly due to his missed free throws) squarely on his shoulders. Not only will John Wall have to face off against a motivated Rose, but he’ll most likely have to face off again John Lucas, who had a career game against him on January 11 (25 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds — although backup Bulls PG CJ Watson, unavailable in the previous meeting between these two teams like Rose, is also back). Who has a better game tonight, Wall or Rose?
MASON: Rose has the better game because he’s the better player playing on the better team. Especially troubling for Wall, who struggles with turnovers in pick and roll sets, is that the Bulls play awesome, suffocating pick and roll defense. I think the only way Wall has the better game is if it becomes a real up-and-down contest.
TOWNSEND: John Wall has flirted with triple-doubles for the past month; the numbers might convince you that Wall will get lucky tonight. But then you remember that Wall’s career averages against Chicago are, well, average — 13.3 points and 4.3 turnovers. Reality sets in: It’s Derrick Rose, not Wall, with the No. 1 stitched on the back of his jersey, and it’s Rose who has learned to bend the laws of physics, and it’s Rose who wins the game.
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Wizards-Bobcats Part II within about 72 hours of each other… the two worst teams in the NBA and truly the polar opposite of a #LeaguePassAlert. Washington is not without a plethora of questions from game-to-game, as goes their perpetually inconsistent state. If wouldn’t be any fun otherwise… you know, if they were just bad and not like a bunch of breakable eggs on the court each time. In any case, let’s begin the 3-on-3 drill featuring some of the most disgruntled Wizards bloggers out there… Sean Fagan of Bullets Forever along with TAI’s Adam McGinnis and yours truly, Kyle Weidie… Let the three questions, three answers begin…
#1) Randy Wittman surprised by starting Jan Vesely over Andray Blatche in Houston. What does he do tonight against the Bobcats? Or rather, what starting lineup would you like to see?
FAGAN: Last night, we saw a type of pedal-to-the-metal play that I think the team should continue for the rest of the year, because for at least the first two quarters, the team appeared to be having fun. Against the Bobcats, I think this type of controlled disorganization has a greater chance of success than of failure. The game might resemble more of a scrum than actual basketball, but I’ll take wins over aesthetics any day of the week. A guy like Vesely, who is everywhere at once, is integral to this type of play. He isn’t AK-47, but he is whatever the slightly cheaper Czech knockoff of that weaponry might be. As such, your starting lineup should be: Wall, Young, McGee (if I had my way, Turiaf would heal overnight), Vesely, and Singleton.
McGINNIS: At 3-16, no one’s starting spot should be secure. My issue with McGee and Vesely as your front line starters is that neither are scorers. I would expect Randy to change it up again as he appears to sending some messages to players because honestly, he has nothing to lose at all. The team stinks and it’s highly unlikely the organization will fire him before end of season, so why not keep throwing different lineups out there? I would roll with Wall, Mack, Singleton, Booker, Vesely. Those five will play hard and leave it all out on the court.
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Tonight the Wizards face a Houston Rockets team that they played fairly close about 10 days ago… Washington fell apart toward the end, per usual. But this game is different, new Wizards coach Randy Wittman, that dancing fool (as it IS ‘Dance Party Friday’ on Bullets Forever), will be facing off against friendly foe Kevin McHale. When the Washington Post’s Michael Lee attempted to pry some answers out of McHale about his old chums, Wittman and Flip Saunders, the Rockets coach said, “No thoughts. I’m pretty much not going to answer anything you’re asking on that. That’s usually a hint. If I don’t answer the first question, I’m not answering the second or third.” Then he offered Lee a dap. Whatever is clever… McHale probably just didn’t want to call the Wizards players dumb (since, after all, McGee did try that off-the-backboard dunk B.S. the last time these two teams faced). In any case, the drill is three questions, three answers, featuring TAI’s Rashad Mobley, Sam Permutt and John Converse Townsend. 3-on-3 starts now…
#1) Houston won just five of their first 12 games when they beat Washington on MLK Day, but overall won seven in a row before that streak was snapped by Milwaukee, in Houston, on Wednesday (the Rockets victory over the Wizards was win No. 2 in the streak). They now stand at 10-8, while the Wizards are 3-15, and normally you’d expect Washington to lose this game, but under a new coach, they might be a bit more hungry to get their first road victory. Which team comes out the aggressor?
MOBLEY: The Wizards. Unless you’re the Oklahoma City Thunder, and you’re trying to avenge a loss, no one is going to get up for the Wizards and come out aggressive, so the Rockets will start slow. The Wizards as a whole will be looking to continue their Randy Wittman-inspired momentum previously found against the lowly Bobcats. But more specifically, JaVale McGee SHOULD be motivated because a) he got dunked on by Chandler Parsons’ franks and beans in the last meeting, and b) he performed this ill-advised dunk.
PERMUTT: A coaching change can create a tryout-like atmosphere on a team. Players suddenly have newfound motivation to play unselfishly, to dive on the floor, to show their new leader (and minute distributor) why they belong on the court. Of course, the players are all familiar with Randy Wittman as an assistant. Nonetheless, expect the Wizards to be eager to please their new head coach in his first official game. Wait… the Bobcats are a real team? That game counted?!? Never mind. But still.
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[Boris Diaw... HUNGRY? - photo: A. McGinnis]
Tonight the Washington Wizards officially dive into the Randy Wittman era, aiming to get him a win off the bat against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. Well, lowly is relative. The Bobcats are 3-14, the Wizards are 3-15. For this 3-on-3 drill, we have John Pettice of BobcatsPlanet.com along with TAI’s Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) You have to start a new team in India and you get to take four players from the rosters Washington and Charlotte with you. The caveat is that you must choose three players from one team, and only one player from the other team. Who you got and why?
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