Focus on the Celtics
The Wizards wrapped up practice not long ago and appear to have turned the page from Wednesday's tough opening night loss in Cleveland and are focused on the Boston Celtics. The good news is that four of the next five games are at Verizon Center, where the Wiz were 27-14 last season, so the team will have an opportunity to bounce back and get rolling in the friendly confines. I'm thrilled at the stretch because we spent almost the entire preseason on the road. The Wiz haven't played at home since the preseason opener against Toronto on Oct. 9.
Jarvis Hayes said he'd like to win 30 games at home this season: "You have to protect that home court because winning on the road in this league is hard."
A big reason why the Wizards won 45 games in 2004-2005 is because they were 29-12 at home. Remember that brutal stretch late in the season when the lost five straight road games and everyone started the "Same old Wizards" talk only to bounce back by ripping four straight off at home?
Anyway, I was flipping through the media guide looking at home and away marks in franchise history and it shocked me how good the old Bullets were at home. Here are the home wins from 1973-74 through 78-79: 31, 36, 31, 32 and 29. If this team protects home court like that, it can lock up home court advantage in the playoffs. That may have made a huge difference in the first round against Cleveland last spring.
Antawn Jamison provided some insight into that last-second attempt the other night from three-point range. "I knew I was going to be wide open because when we walked out there I heard Larry (Hughes) tell Varajeo that it was going to be a dribble handoff (Jamison handing it off to Gilbert) so when I got it and faked to Gilbert, I turned and was all alone. I just rushed it. I probably should have taken a dribble so I would have been going towards the basket."
From my perspective, the really interesting part about the final play was that I had watched Jamison in pregame warm ups go through his normal shooting routine. With Wes Unseld Jr. rebounding, Jamison attempts 15 threes from five spots around the three-point line and I would guess that he makes 60 percent of them. He then moves onto free throws and various mid-range shots and post ups. So, when he took the shot the other night, the thought that popped in my head was: "This is good." He just missed it. He missed similar open look from 3 late last season in Houston but doesn't appear to be bothered. "I've been in those situations a lot and I'm comfortable with it. I just rushed that one. Hopefully I get a few more of those."
A few folks have written in wondering about Andray Blatche. He was inactive Wednesday and obviously is not in Eddie Jordan's plans as far as the regular rotation. However, that does not mean that he'll be inactive every game. Jordan said he will take a look at Blatche from time to time in "certain situations." One thing Andray is working on his outside shot. He tends the release the ball a little flat and he doesn't always get good elevation. He was taking a jumpers after practice today under the watchful eyes of Ernie Grunfeld, who offered advice from time to time.
"What are the three keys Andray?" Grunfeld asked.
Blatche, without hesitating: "Legs, release, finger tips."
Grunfeld: "That's right."
Blatche promptly drilled four of his next five shots.
Grunfeld: "See how easy it is. It's all technique."
Blatche smiled. The kid appears to be keeping his spirits up after a disappointing preseason.
I was killed today for wearing a St. Olaf College sweatshirt (my alma mater) to practice.
VP of BBall administration Tommy Sheppard: "Did you hurt your shoulder pulling that one out of the closet?"
Antonio Daniels: "Man, you went deep with that one. That thing's looking a little short in the front."
Jamison: "St.Olaf? That's a college? I thought it was a pre-school or something."
Interesting observation: Hayes walked out with a Mitch Richmond highlight DVD tucked under his arm. I just hope it is the Golden State/Sacramento version of Richmond rather than the Washington one because the man was nice back in those days.
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