Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Two Wizards Suck.
This is basically what you're left with when you remove Gilbert Arenas from the Wizards. Straight up suckage.
I'll admit, I'm more than a little upset about the events that transpired last night when Avery Johnson sat my best fantasy player, Dirk Nowitzki, unannounced, while Antawn Jamison poured in 48 points in an (obviously) losing effort. Jamison is on the team competing with me for my fantasy basketball championship. In the points category, today I find myself down by about 75, which is about what I figure the spread of that one ridiculous coincidence was. Why is it that fantasy football leagues are set up to finish a week before the end of the season, while fantasy basketball leagues are left to create situations where Jamison is more valuable than Nowitzki? Why? I don't understand this. (While I'm at it, thanks a lot for sitting Duncan, Popovic. Not like he got enough of that last game!)
Perhaps, like my predictions of the Gators' March downfall, my playoff predication will be tainted by my distaste for certain players or coaches (Antawn Jamison, that is). However, there are two big differences between the Gators and the Wizards: 1) The Gators were the one of the best teams in the tournament, while the Wizards are the worst team in the playoffs; and 2) Alligators are sweet. Wizards are gay. (Though not as gay as that man on the right. God, please kill me.)
That aside, let's get down to objectivity. The Wiz were having a pretty solid (39-33) year until Arenas went down and the Wizards subsequently went, oh, 1-8. The loss of Arenas is devastating to this team because he sets up the offense and is the primary option. (The blow would have been softened if Caron Butler, who is in the midst of a M.I.P.-type year, hadn't gone down just a game before.)
However, all is not lost. The Wizards are a really high-scoring team, and they happen to have another guy who averages almost 20 points a game (the Knicks don't have any). They also have a couple of solid big men, and some decent bench players. The thing that is really worrisome is their lack of a point guard. All they have to backup Arenas is Antonio Daniels, and while I am a very big Antonio Daniels fan, and while he has a little bit of point guard in him (in the three games after Arenas went down, he averaged a smooth 13 assists per game), he is simply not going to get the job done in the playoffs. It also appears as though there is something wrong with his back; he's missed the past two games and in last night's loss was completely ineffective, going 0-10.
What this will mean for the Wizards is that they will possess a dramatic disadvantage against Chicago's excellent backcourt of Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon. The best possible scenario is that DeShawn Stevenson might be able to slow Ben Gordon down (and that's pushing it). If Gilbert Arenas was healthy, this would be one of the best backcourt wars in the playoffs. Without him, it's Gettysburg. Exacerbating Washington's disadvantage, DeShawn's excellent complimentary offensive game seems to take a big hit when he's looked on to score (the 46% shooter shot only 35% after Arenas went down).
The Bulls should be able to parlay their advantage at guard into open shots for Andres Nocioni and one-on-one post situations for Luol Deng. (I really think these guys fit into the Bulls' team well, by the way.) The Wizards would ordinarily have a concomitant advantage on the offensive end if Caron Butler was healthy, but he just got the cast taken off his hand yesterday and says he will be ready to play "if the Wizards reach the second round". (Funny coincidence...)
Butler's injury means the Bulls will be able to guard Jamison in the post with Wallace/Deng and on the perimeter (though probably less effectively) with Nocioni or even Hinrich; they won't have to worry about matchup problems because there's no one else who's threatening. Add to that the fact that Jamison is getting hot at precisely the wrong time (second to last game of the year, wooo!), and you have a serious advantage for Chicago.
At center Washington has a two-headed crap-monster. The Bulls have a one-headed bad motherfucker. Neither team is threatening offensively (though Ben Wallace has shown some ability to play offense in the playoffs), and everyone rebounds and plays defense well. The only real difference is that Ben Wallace is better at defense and rebounding than both of the Wizards' guys combined. Advantage: Bulls. See a trend developing here?
I think the Wizards have one of the more underrated benches in the East, with a good shooter (Darius Songaila), a pretty talented athlete (Jarvis Hayes), a solid backup center (Thomas/Haywood) and an excellent combo guard (Daniels). The problem is, it ends there, and with the Wizards' injury problems, they'll need more depth.
The Bulls' bench is very solid, with a great backup point guard (Chris Duhon [try to name a championship team without a solid backup point guard]), PJ "I play as dirty as Bruce Bowen except I'm not as good at defense" Brown, Tyrus Thomas (who was really coming on at the end of the season), and Thabo Sefolosha, who I like even though he doesn't play much.
I think this is going to be a sweep, save for an act of god or some gruesome string of injuries on the Bulls' side. Even at full-speed, I'd take the Bulls over the Wizards for their strong defense and frontcourt, but that would at least be a fun series. What we're left with will be a pathetic mashing of a team that's a shell of its former self. Oh well.
As always, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Jimmy at 2:22 PM