There’s been talk, mostly from Ed Tapscott, about the Wizards needing to do more of the ‘little things’. The Washington Post reports that Tapscott recently wrote ‘Little Things’ on a dry-erase board and then had this quote after the game last night, “We’ve got to take a look at the little things that cause us to have poor possessions at the end of games or some of the plays we have to make defensively against a drive. Those things will be addressed.”
The need for little things works on a sliding scale. The better the team, and talent, the more room there is to fudge on those little things. With injuries and the what-not, the Wizards have no wiggle room. Of course, teams like the Spurs have talent and do the little things; that’s why they have multiple championships under their belt.
Last night, some of the ‘little things’ the Wizards did not do include:
- Andray Blatche using only his upper body on block out attempts (although, I believe this has blossomed into an epidemic).
- Caron Butler lacking consideration in blocking out Rudy Fernandez, who was allowed to get a running start and a huge offensive put-back to put Portland up three with 2:24 left.
- Caron Butler using too much shot clock and then putting a rookie, JaVale McGee, in a difficult position to hit a contested baseline jumper from a though angle with the shot clock running down and 1:30 left in the game.
- Nick Young turning the wrong way (270 degrees instead of 90) in trying to defend a cutting Rudy Fernandez which led to a bucket and a foul at the very end of the 3rd period.
- DeShawn Stevenson not stopping the ball, and Sergio Rodriguez, after made FTs, which set up the previously mentioned gaffe.
- Ed Tapscott going with Darius Songaila instead of Dominc McGuire on a crucial defensive possession with the Wizards down two, 13 seconds left, and mostly perimeter players in for Portland.
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In anticipation of tonight’s matchup between the Washington Wizards and the Portland Trail Blazers, SJ, of The Rip City Project, was kind enough to answer a couple questions I had about his team. Read on….
1) Portland is second in the NBA in offensive rating, but dead last in pace. Do you think the slowed down offense better sets up the young Blazers to get deeper into the playoffs? Or with quick/wiry athletes such as Travis Outlaw, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum (but not Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla), would you like to see the team get out and run a little more?
I think the slow pace is one of the main reasons why Portland has been able to find success this early. One of our strengths so far this season has been an ability to take care of the ball. At one point we were #1 in fewest turnovers and I believe we are still top 5. The lack of turnovers can be attributed directly to the slow pace. Teams that play at a slower pace will turn the ball over less than teams who don’t. Why? The fewer possessions a team has, the fewer times they can turn it over. Not to mention that Portland tends to be super careful with the ball anyhow. I think with our personnel we can do a bit of both. When it’s time to get out and run, we can get out and run. When Sergio Rodriguez checks in the tempo seems to jump up a couple notches. But I’m perfectly fine with this teams pace. It can be methodical at times but it is the type of mature basketball that tends to do well in the post-season. Can’t argue with results.
2) Speaking of playoffs, the Blazers missed the cut last year after a great start. Right now, they sit atop of the Northwest Division, tied with the Nuggets for the second best record in the West. Assuming that the playoffs will be a lock, what are your realistic expectations as to how far they will go?
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Jeff from CelticsBlog.com is doing the grunt work to put together a comprehensive NBA preview from bloggers ’round the ‘sphere. The Atlantic Division Preview was first, the Southwest Division was second, the Central Division was third, and now the Northwest Division is out. Here are the highlights from the participating bloggers for each team, click on the blog links to see the full team preview:
[Pickaxe and Roll]
I think there are different answers depending on whether you are talking about the goals of management or the goals of the players. Management has clearly been geared towards the future. The Camby trade revolved around future cap flexibility. They traded their first round pick for a future first round pick. Older players Camby and Najera have been sent packing in exchange for younger players. Management would never admit it, nor should they, but I do not think they expect anything other than another first round exit at best from this squad. Prediction: 47-35
[The Nugg Doctor]
The goal for this team is to not be content just making the playoffs, but to finally advance in the postseason. For five straight seasons the Nuggets have been one of only four teams in the league to make the playoffs in said consecutive years and are the only team to have not made it to the conference semis. Prediction: 44-38
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The Washington Wizards would like to have a small forward to backup Caron Butler. Darius Miles would like to be a member of an NBA team. Could the two be a match?
At face value, Miles would be far from the shooter the Wizards should desire for spot action. On the other hand, he is still freakishly athletic and could provide a combustible punch of energy off the bench for a team needing a push. Darius Miles could be seen as a low-risk, high-reward option, and he’s only 26.
Darius Miles the person raises several red flags. Number one is knee issues. He had microfracture surgery in November 2006 and an independent source dubbed his injury as career ending this past April, allowing the Portland Trailblazers to release him without salary cap implications. The last NBA game the guy play in was over 26 months ago. However, reports say that his knee has fully recovered, but that Miles is just not yet in ‘NBA Shape.’ Should he play again, Portland’s cap space would shrink.
Red flag #2, attitude. Most accounts don’t dub Miles as an absolute menace, rather elude to a selfish demeanor created from your run-of-the-mill pampered upbringing of a natural born basketball talent. The most famous example is a 2005 confrontation between Miles and then Portland head coach, Maurice Cheeks. It started in a film session and may or may not have included escalation into the office of then Blazers GM, and former Bullets head man, John Nash. But surely Miles has learned a humbling lesson, and perhaps coming under the wing of a veteran such as Antawn Jamison would aid his maturity.
Red flag #3, suspension. Much ado has been made Darius Miles failing a drug test and being suspended by the league for 10 games. The NBA then made all teams aware of said fact via email, this stirred a minor controversy as to if the league acted unethically in leaking medical information. True Hoop and The Sporting Blog have the issue at hand well covered. The heart of the previous debate: does D-Miles have a weed or steroid problem? The latest report from Mark Stein is that Phentermine (an appetite suppressant which is considered a controlled substance because of a similarity to amphetamines) is actually responsible for the failed test. Not exactly a reason for NBA teams to be concerned. Although, I am curious as to why he was taking weight loss pills; being off that knee probably fattened him up.
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Getting hyped over a Washington Wizards NBA Summer League game? You betcha…..and why not?
Sure you can go check out the Game Blog on Bullets Forever, as well as the box score….but below, you will find some select comments from the World Wide Web.
Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers will be shown on Comcast on Wednesday at 8 pm DC time….and on NBA.com as well (30 minute delay I believe).
“I want to be a better defender. That and learn the plays better.”
- Nick Young [Lang Whitaker's favorite summer league quote so far]
“He [Andray Blatche] lost concentration a lot on the glass and allowed his man lots of offensive rebounds. Then, there’s the last possession, where he had the ball knocked out of his hands, allowing the Blazers to rebound Bayless’ missed free throw. It encapsulated everything maddening about Blatche. He can look so physically imposing and yet be so mentally weak.”
- Pradamaster, Bullets Forever
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I hate to bring up that terrible Wizards loss to Portland. Ok, I already did in my Pac-NW recap. In any case, the honor of Caron Butler must be defended. So, I will attempt to quell any thoughts of Caron being a dirty player….like one Kobe Bryant.
In the live game blog on Bullets Forever, this is what I said:
Funny play to end the [Update: it happened at the end of the 1st, I originally had 2nd] quarter…Caron attempts a 3 at the buzzer, he misses…it looks like Roy goes into him, they both go down hard. But Caron gets right up, Baby Brandon needs the trainer to come help him. The replay shows that Caron “might” have grabbed Roy.
In the comments section, ItsMrHarris2u wrote this:
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Recapping the Best of the Recaps.
Don’t Sleep on Roger Mason in Seattle
Seattle Sonics Blog on seattlepi.com:
There were several disturbing things about the game. How in the world did Roger Mason Jr. get open for six 3-pointers en route to 22 points? At about the third or fourth 3-pointer, you have to double Mason to get the ball out of his hands. There was a definite lack of defensive adjustments and that is coach P.J. Carlesimo’s fault.
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The Wizards Run-Down
Recapping those Pistons:
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Ok, back to back nights for the Wiz. Gilbert played 38 minutes last night. 10 minutes of rest, not bad….especially since Gil tells us that his knee is improving in his latest Agent Zero blog entry.
It’s early in the season, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with Caron Butler burning out; he played 46 minutes against the T-Wolves. It’s obvious that he is the #1 horse this year, the pillar that the team must lean on since they really don’t know what they will get from Gil on a nightly basis. Even though Arenas came through big last night, I’m not ready to officially declare him back. Butler is shooting .508 from the field this year, a dramatic improvement from the .463 he shot last year. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
The big issues for tonights game:
>> Production from the 2, the Wiz are desperate for someone to step up.
>> Who’s guarding LaMarcus Aldridge? It will probably be AJ, and we are never thrilled with his D. But LaMarcus has a good perimeter game, so you definitely don’t want Haywood away from the basket, chasing him around…then again, Channing Frye likes to roam too. I’m sensing that we will see the big line-up (one of them) early tonight. Blatche will be key (obvious).
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