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Need some D in Big D


The Wizards will play an interesting set of back to backs in the next five days. First, it's tonight against Dallas followed by a quick turnaround at Houston tomorrow night and then, after getting Thanksgiving off, it's at Memphis on Friday followed by a home game against the Pistons.

It's a tough little stretch and will tell us a lot about this team. How will the depth be if Jarvis Hayes can't go? Jarvis is listed as day-to-day after that nasty fall the other night but I don't expect to see him tonight. That means we'll see some Donell Taylor and Roger Mason Jr. at some point over the next two nights.

Much has betten written about the Wiz and that ugly 0-4 mark on the road and to me, it all starts with Gilbert Arenas. He's looked like a totally different player at Verizon Center and his stats back that up. As I detailed in today's Post, Gilbert is averaging 36.6 point and shooting 51.1 percent at home and averaging 18.3 points while shooting 28.2 percent on the road. Tonight will be interesting because in Jason Terry and Devin Harris, the Mavs have a pair of quick-footed guards to throw at Arenas plus a veteran like Anthony Johnson to bring in if needed.

The Wizards better bring some defense tonight against Dirk Nowitzki and the boys. Dirty Dirk was named the Western Conference player of the week yesterday after he had double doubles in all three of Dallas' wins last week.

I watched the Mavs win at Charlotte last night and have seen a few of their games overall and the general impression is that they are team that is still hung over from blowing the finals in June. I don't see a ton of passion or extra defensive energy and Dirk Nowitzki has appeared to pick his spots while fitting in with a few new pieces like Johnson, Austin Croshere and Devean George.

The Mavs have won six straight games after opening 0-4 but players seem to sense that they aren't playing anything close to great basketball.

From today's Dallas Morning news

An interesting quote from former Wizard Jerry Stackhouse after last night's 93-85 road win over the scrappy Charlotte Bobcats: "Early in the season, we should have all the enthusiasm to play, but it's still kind of hard getting up for teams like that," Stackhouse said. "We felt we could wear them down as the game went along. They're still trying to figure out how to win."

The Mavs could be short-handed: George could be out with a sore knee, Josh Howard has been out with sprained left ankle and Stackhouse hs been slowed by a strained groin that forced him to miss the Mavs' previous game.

One key for the Wizards during this road stretch will be laying off the zebras and concentrating on playing basketball. Several players talked about how they've allowed themselves to be distracted by calls, particularly down the stretch of close games.

Caron Butler on the issue following yesterday's workout at Verizon Center: "That's what we worked on in practice today. We had Harvey Grant (former Bullet and director of player development) calling practice today and he's terrible. I mean, he's terrible but guys didn't even look in his direction after some of those calls. Just kept playing. Did I say he's terrible? Write that. You can quote me on that."

By Ivan Carter  |  November 21, 2006; 1:13 PM ET
 
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Next: On to Houston

Comments

They win tonight, but lose against Houston.

I just wish they could be consistent night in and out. It always seems like it takes them half a season before they start playing well.

I change my seating to 7-9 in the East.

Very inconsitent, can beat anyone or lose to anyone. At least it seems like they are rebounding better.

Jordan should still give Haywood more minutes but I bet they play Ruffin more tonight so they can save Haywood for Yao.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | November 21, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

With Jarvis out, does AD get increased minutes? I doubt EJ gives much playing time to Mason or DT (although he should) Many second year rooks are doing well this season because they have been given minutes to improve play - look at Utah, their on-top.

Posted by: Wizzy | November 21, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

True..EJ does not develop bench players well with regards to minutes, while working the heck out of starters. READ, play Mason! By the way, does the Wiz play Princeton..I think not, they do not move or pass generally, which is one contributing factor to bad defense and now rebounds by their bigs. Let me know how anyone can rebound the bombs that the "Big Three" shot that goes beyond the three point line..A

Posted by: Anonymous | November 21, 2006 2:48 PM | Report abuse

wiz will 5-8 after next stretch with win over memphis...losing to dallas, houston and detroit...

Posted by: chenier...riordan...hayes | November 21, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Jarvis was horrible Saturday night before he was taken off the floor. I don't like that he was injured but it might be good to see how the team is without him. He missed SO many shots.
I love Tough Juice's quote about Grant. I guess he's terrible?

Posted by: slim change | November 21, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

love the analysis, guys. Keep it up!

Posted by: Zards fanatic | November 21, 2006 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Ivan:
How can you write about last night's game and not discuss smallball??? Haywood and Thomas played 24 minutes last night, and the team was +4 while they were on the court. When they weren't, they were -31. Or, you could write about the complete ineffectiveness of Michael Ruffin at center. Jordan subbed Ruffin in for Thomas with about 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and the Wizards up by 1. At the end of the quarter, they were down by 12 and the game was over. For the season, during the few minutes when Ruffin is on the court, the Wizards are outscored by an astounding 58 points. Overall for the season, the Wizards are outscored by their opponents by 24. But when either Thomas or Haywood is on the court, the Wizards have outscored opponents by 45 points. So why on earth would the coaching staff continue to insist that smallball is the way to go? Maybe you could run some numbers for yourself and ask Jordan about them.
Have a great Thanksgiving, Ivan, and thanks so much for doing these blogs.

Posted by: Henry | November 22, 2006 9:00 AM | Report abuse

""READ, play Mason!""

Lol, I forgot we even had that guy.

Henry is 100% right, why the heck is Ruffin playing 10 minutes anyway? Haywood only played 6 minutes?

*sigh*

I want to add "assists" to this discussion:

Dallas: 23
Wiz: 10

10 asists the whole night??? On one series Gilbert brought the ball down and was by himself with 4 Dallas guys back on defense. Not one or two, but FOUR.

He promptly pulled up from the three and clanked it off the rim instead of waiting to set up offense.

I made a comment on someone elses post(poptart or BK) a few days back about implying a "Jarvis Hayes" rule that they must perform a layup prior to shooting.

It just reminded me of what Hubie Brown said while playing Detriot,"Just wait a little bit and the Wiz will let you back in the game."

Com-on Wiz, this is fixable!

I think you have to start looking at Jordan here pretty soon. Basketball is NOT a complicated game, and "smallball" is losing us games.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | November 22, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Amen and amen to Henry's comments. Thanks for the data that backs up what anyone who watches the games can see.

I missed the first half last night so I am right now watching this Mavs game and I am not surprised to see that Etan and the guys started out well. It is so obvious that this "smallball" does not work for us. Jamison and Ruffin at the 5 is an absolute disaster. Neither is so far this year giving us what they gave us last year. the drop off has been gigantic. Certainly Dirk at the 5 is a tough matchup. But how many times do we have to see him have his way with Jamison?

It is as stupid to blame our slow start on Arenas as it is to blame the Skins woes on their offense. When are people, including our coach who says this is the year we will emphasize defense, going to really believe that defense means that you don't just put your best 5 "athletic" people on the floor together?

And seeing the the post game comments. Apparently nobody seems to be talking about it. Very, very frustrating. Arenas and Jamison are 2 of our best 3 offensive players. I think it is possible to hide 1 player who is defensively challenged, but you can't hide 2. I said during the off season that if our goal is a championship we will need move Jamison somehow. I am sure he has value somewhere. And don't get me wrong, he seems to be a locker room leader, brings stability to Gilbert, brings class to the organization and on the court was a double-double machine last year. But I don't think we can get deeper in the spring with both he and Gilbert on the floor for 39 minutes per game.

Posted by: BmoreRev | November 22, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Amen and amen to Henry's comments. Thanks for the solid data that backs up what anyone who watches the games can see.

I missed the first half last night so I am right now watching this Mavs game and I am not surprised to see that Etan and the guys started out well. It is so obvious that this "smallball" does not work for us. Jamison and Ruffin at the 5 is an absolute disaster. Neither one of them in my opinion is so far this year giving us what they gave us last year. The drop off has been gigantic. Certainly Dirk at the 5 is a tough matchup. But how many times do we have to see him have his way with Jamison?

It is as stupid to blame our slow start on Arenas as it is to blame the Skins woes on their offense. When are people, including our coach who says this is the year we will emphasize defense, going to really believe that focusing on defense means that you can't just put your best 5 "athletic" people on the floor together?

And seeing some of the the post game comments. Apparently nobody seems to be talking about it as the key problem. Very, very frustrating. Arenas and Jamison are 2 of our best 3 offensive players. I think it is possible to hide 1 player who is defensively challenged, but you can't hide 2. I said during the off season that if our goal is a championship we will need to move Jamison somehow. I am sure he has value somewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I like Jamison and appreciate his key role in franchise turnaround. He seems to be a locker room leader, brings stability to Gilbert, brings class to the organization and on the court was a double-double machine last year. But I just don't think we will ever get any deeper in the spring with both him and Gilbert on the floor for 39 minutes per game.

Tonight he will probably give Etyan and Haywood most of the minutes because of Ming. But don't let it fool you. Keep an eye on this basic commitment to smallball. It ultimately will not work.

So in my humble opinion, all this preseason battling for minutes between Etan and Brenden, and the locker room "incident" ...it was all a rope-a- dope, a smokescreen. When the Zards really get behind and it is crunch time, we get to see Jamison and Ruffin in the hole! And we lose. Folks...that is what I see.

That's my rant for the week. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Bmore

Posted by: BmoreRev | November 22, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the above. And if we weren't talking about the ill-advised smallball today, we would probably be discussing the Jamison for Stackhouse and the 5th pick trade. In the end, I think it was a good trade because the team needed the leadership Jamison provides, but the team gave up a lot.

Posted by: Red | November 22, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Looks like I wasted $180 on NBA TV bc the Wizards are more likely to hit the lottery this year than make the second round of the playoffs and it just might be better in the long run. I know we are not a defensive team but this team is simply embarrassing on D. I like Jorday, but can you tell me that this team would be this bad on D with say Larry Brown as coach. There is simple "want to" involved in D
and accountability by the coach for not even trying is a plus. Jordan does not do this. If Arenas is standing straight up and his guy blows right by him, he comes out of the game. Period. Jamison is not good on D either and it is compounded when he has sucked 80% of the games on O as well. At least I've seen him try to play D at times. The problem with Arenas and I am a big fan is he is not a leader and any attempt to bring some structure to his game and he will probably want outta town quickly. I am actually beginning to think the rest of the team is sick and tired of his 1 against 5 mentality on offense.

Overall, I just can't put a finger on this ineptitude this year. They can't miss Jared Jeffries this much. Maybe as a mismatch problem and offensive rebounder, but his absence does not explain this team's start at all. They would have overpaid to keep him anyway.

I'm at a loss. Arenas is stinking (don't care about his scoring average), Jamison is stinking, Butler is playing fairly well, and you get a game out of Thomas about 10% of the time. It's a stinky mess right now.

They are down 7 to the Rockets right now and I would've bet my year end bonus they lose by 15 or more before the game started. The line was 7. What a joke!!!!

Finally, am I the only person who has seen this team's demeanor/confidence plummet since the Vince Carter lucky as hell three to tie the game and eventually win in OT a few games back? I swear they still have not gotten over that game.

Oh well, the honeymoon of making the playoffs two straight years is over!!!

Posted by: Robert Phillips | November 22, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse

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