[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 23 contributors: Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis), Arish Narayen, and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It).]
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.
[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 9 contributors: covered on-hand at the Verizon Center by Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend, with Rashad Mobley from the television feed. Oh, and you can now find our stuff on Google+. Go ahead and circle Truth About It.]
The Toronto Raptors (4-5) fly south to D.C. to take on the Washington Wizards (0-8). Toronto, competing in its only back-to-back-to-back this season, will be looking for a second win in as many nights before heading west to play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Washington split a four-game series versus Toronto last season, securing two victories at home by an average of nine points. TAI’s Beckley Mason, Adam McGinnis and John Converse Townsend go 3-on-3 to get you ready for tonight’s action.
#1) In four games vs. Washington last season, Andrea Bargnani averaged 25.5 points on 57.1-percent shooting in wins and 18.5 points on 35.3-percent shooting in losses. Which Bargs will show up?
[Consecutive wins for the Wizards? Al Thornton approves.]
Two wins in a row from the Wizards for the first time all season, albeit both at home where they are a much better team, is a sign of progress, especially when one of them is against a very strong Utah Jazz squad. But that first win came against the Toronto Raptors this past Saturday, a grind-it-out affair against another bad team. Ryan Gracia, a current junior at George Mason University studying journalism and sports communication, has followed the Wizards for years, and his family has also long held season tickets. Ryan attended Saturday’s game versus Toronto and below writes about a play that created a winning spark. And below Ryan’s write-up, some suggested links to read.
[Editor's Note: When someone has tried to hype up the match-up between John Wall and this player or that, Wall himself before has played down the issue across the board, saying him against anyone could be considered a so-called 'match-up' ... Well, why not John Wall vs. Jose Calderon then? In the way that everything is connected, Calderon is the former whipping boy of Gilbertology -- the sentiment coming from Arenas' blog in February 2008 that Calderon did not deserve to be an NBA all-star. Now Rashad is here to tell it from the other side, not regarding the days of old, but of Calderon against the Wizards of Wall. -Kyle W.]
I was not able to speak with Raptors guard Jose Calderon or Wizards guard John Wall before the game. Calderon was in the training room getting treatment on a foot that was so injured, even Raptors coach Jay Triano wasn’ t 100-percent sure if he’d play. And a pre-game interview with Wall is as elusive as as a Wizards road win these days–I’m sure it’ll happen one day, but it hasn’t as of yet.
However, if I were able to interview Calderon and Wall, I can imagine interview answers going something like this: Read more »
[Editor's Note: Beckley Mason provided Verizon Center coverage of Saturday night's 98-95 Wizards win over the Toronto Raptors for TAI. You can usually find Beckley at the TrueHoop Network general NBA blog, HoopSpeak.com. You can also find him on Twitter: @BeckleyMason. -Kyle W.]
“Yi has a great set of skills. When he dunked it tonight I was like ‘OK China.’” -Andray Blatche
I caught up with Rashard to ask him about tonight’s matchup with the Raptors. The take away: Both teams have the same game plan. The Raptors play fast and loose with plenty of pick and rolls. According to Lewis, the Wizards will look to do much the same.
Lewis identified forward Andre Bargnani and point guard Jose Calderon as the primary threats on the Raptors, as I’d imagine Toronto is concerned about the Lewis-Wall tandem.
Bargnani is a big key for this team, he’s playing great this year. He’s big, so he creates matchup problems, he can shoot threes– he can post up, he can drive to the basket, sets a lot of pick and rolls with the pick and pop or he can roll to the basket… so it’s a number of different things to look out for. And Calderon is also a good point guard so there’s a number of different things we need to be ready to defend with those two.
As for pace, Rashard supposes the Wizards need to push the ball as much as possible, but it has to come from defense. That is, play fast, but not loose.
It’s a big key tonight. We need to come out and hit them first, set the tone . You know they like to play fast but we like to play fast, as well because John is our point guard, and he’s better when we play fast… I think if we can defend first and hold them to one shot and then kick the ball to John and get out and just run we’ll be better off on offense.
“I feel like I’ve been blindsided by Brian Orakpo. I mean, that was just … wow.”
-Wizards television commentator Steve Buckhantz after witnessing a first half of basketball in which the Wizards allowed 44 points in the paint, and let Toronto shoot 67% en route to a 72-52 lead after 24 minutes. The Raptors ultimately prevailed 127-108.
Let’s take a look at a screen-shot depiction of the fun, shall we?
There’s no place like home, evidently … especially when the Wizards play defense like Dorothy.
Oh, and these are the red shoes Gilbert Arenas wore against the Raptors for World AIDS Week.
Debating which is worse, wasting two and half hours watching that putrid Wizards defensive performance against the Toronto Raptors in a 127- 108 rout, or trying to figure out what to write for a game recap. Both seem like torture for a Wizards fan, but I will at least try a bigger literary effort than Andray Blatche does at defense. The Wizards team wore red shoes, headbands, and warm ups to honor World AIDS Week, although it was pretty symbolic of the matador D that they unveiled in Canada Wednesday evening.
The Wizards did their usual roadkill performance in remarkable fashion by giving up 72 points on 32 made FGs — in the first half! With the Magic, Celtics and Hawks already destroying the Wizards this season, you could at least counter that those are playoff teams. Not the case with a sub par 6-11 Raptors team, the Wizards were lucky to hold them under 140 points.
The Raptors did shoot a blistering 67% in the first half, yet, most of them were dunks, fast-break lay-ups and easy buckets around the hoop. Thirty of the Raptors first 40 points came in the paint (62 for the game), and they tallied 50 points in the first 17 minutes of the game, ending up with 32 fast break points. Toronto also crushed the Wiz 52-30 in rebounding.
Andrea Bargnani looked like the version of Dirk Nowitzki everyone thought he could be when the Raptors drafted him first overall in 2006. He threw down facial dunks, grabbed offensive boards at ease, and flowed in any jumper he wanted at will. DeMar Derozan did a ‘Bo Kimble at Loyola Marymount’ impression, Leandro Barbosa was Tim Hardaway in Run TMC, Jose Calderon put on a ‘Fat Lever with the Nuggets’ play-making act, and Jerryd Bayless was, sigh … you get the picture. But let John Wall paint it for you:Read more »