Key Matchups: Hair and Lithuania
While this is surely the first NBA playoff series in quite some time in which one guard is named DeShawn and another guard is married to DeShawn, it is also something more. Has there ever been a stretch in an NBA playoff game where two Lithuanians (Darius Songaila, Zydrunas Ilgauskas) were guarding two guys with as memorable hair as Anderson Varejao and Etan Thomas, respectively?
[Interruption: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reportedly had a caption on A1 today that discussed "Eton" Thomas. No respect to the man whose foot very nearly caused the biggest stir this series will see.]
Anyhow, I set to work yesterday tracking three stats:
1) The DIFF when both Lithuanians were on the floor together.
2) The DIFF when both memorable hair folks were on the floor together.
3) The DIFF when all four men were on the court together.
Here are the results.
1) The Lithuanians were on the floor together for a short stretch in the second and third quarters, and for a long stretch in the fourth. Over that span, the Cavaliers outscored the Wizards, 29-17.
I asked Songaila today whether he feels anything extra when he goes against Z.
"You always kind of in the back of your mind have a little micro duel going on, but it's not like personal or anything," he said. "I mean, to an extent it is but it's not like hatred or anything."
I wondered whether they talk junk to each other in Lithuanian, and he admitted that they did. Since I have virtually no experience in the nuances of Baltic trash-talking, I asked for some details, in the native tongue.
"I'm not going to tell you," Songaila said. "That's just between me and him."
"Oh, he says it all the time," interrupted DeShawn Stevenson, who was walking nearby. "When they make a bad call, just watch him. He does it all the time."
Songaila suggested I merely listen during games, but our seats our way, way, way out of earshot, certainly concerning Lithuanian trash talk. Which means I'll have to ask Z to spill the Skilandis.
2) The Big Men with Memorable Hair were on the floor together for a long stretch in the second quarter and a short stretch in the fourth. Over that span, the Cavaliers outscored the Wizards 18-12.
I asked some players on both teams whose hairstyle they liked better.
"Etan, he's my teammate," Donell Taylor said. "Varejao, his hair goes everywhere, it's kind of fluffy. Etan, his hair is tied, it's kind of stationary. Etan's hair fits him. Varejao's don't."
"Anderson, it just looks better," Damon Jones said, although he wasn't particularly amused. "That wasn't a serious question," he told me. "It's playoff time." I mean, lighten up.
"It's different styles," said the artful Donyell Marshall. "I can't say who has the better one, who don't. You know, it's different styles. Andy's got the wild look, and obviously Etan has the Reggae look. They're both done nicely. Etan's is actually a little harder, because you've got to really take care of them to look nice. You know, not everybody takes enough care of their dreads to look nice. It's just two different styles."
3) All Four Men were on the court together for the first 2:35 of the second quarter, and for about the same amount of time in the fourth. In that stretch of the second quarter, each Lithuanian man was actually matched up with his opposing Memorable Hair Man. It was magical. Over those two spans, the Cavaliers outscored the Wizards 15-9.
Conclusion: When either both Lithuanians or both Memorable Hair Men were on the court at the same time, the Cavaliers were +12. The final margin was +15. Clearly, you'll want to watch these matchups carefully on Wednesday night.
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