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Chat today, Pistons tonight

We'll be having a chat today at 2:15 at washingtonpost.com so stop in with any questions you have about the NBA and the Wizards. The good news for the Wiz is that they'll get Antonio Daniels back tonight. The bad news is that the big bad Pistons are in town and right now, they are rolling. Nine straight wins.

It's a big opportunity for the Wiz, who haven't beaten a team with a winning record since Toronto on Dec. 1. Since then, it's been a whole bunch of games against the Minnesotas, Charlottes and Miamis of the NBA. And there are a lot of them.

One key for the WIz has been a much improved defense. They are allowing 98.4 points per game, 6.5 fewer than last season. That's the largest improvement in the league this season after only Boston (allowing 86.8 after allowing 99.2 last season. That D better be on display tonight because the Pistons have been racking up points. They're coming off a 114-69 home win over Milwaukee.

By Ivan Carter  |  January 2, 2008; 10:38 AM ET
 
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Comments

I'm predicting a big game from Jarvis Hayes.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

That's 98.4 points per 100 possessions, not per game. Even better.

They've been playing at a slightly slower pace, so you might expect the point totals to drop for both teams (Wiz and their opponent).

But yeah last year they gave up 104.9 points per 100 possessions. Big switch. Gil was actually much improved on offense even the first few games, and Tawn has been basically and average defender which is a huge leap.

The real key of course is that Brendan has been playing, playing hard, and contributing on offense, and within the scheme, and without complaint, so there's less of a desire to try to jumpstart the O with a smaller line-up.

Behind big Wood we have another near 7-footer in Bulletproof-32.

And we actually have a bit of roster depth so we can survive all the injuries that ought to have gutshot the team.

Plus we've been playing vs. cupcakes. That'll help.

Posted by: doclinkin | January 2, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Much improved defense = playing BTH and AB

lower opponent point totals is a result of not giving up open 3's to sag down in the middle. BTH needs no help in the post and AB is ok unless his man is a strong physical guy.

Posted by: mark | January 2, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse


I'm glad this one is at home.

Yes, Hayes will be gunning for a big game -- but the Wiz can't be distracted by him, the Pistons have too many weapons as it is.

Hopefully, AJ will be on from the 3-point line so as to keep Rasheed from cheating on Haywood.

I never thought I'd say this before this year, but the Wizards need to establish BTH inside on the offensive end early. I don't think McDyess can hang with him. At least he shouldn't be able to.

Posted by: TruthAboutIt.net | January 2, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Whatever happens tonight, put a body on Jarvis Hayes so he can't come back and dance on us. Win or lose I don't want to see him with a 5-6, 17 points type line on him. I am afraid this is a game where this team might miss Arenas.

Posted by: George Templeton | January 2, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Les Boules always do well against the Pistons.

Hopefully Opech returns soon. We'll need him against the bigs on Atlanta, Toronto, Orlando, and Boston.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 2, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Pech is 2 weeks away....permanently.

Posted by: mark | January 2, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Big game tonight. I will be heading into the city to check it out live. I really dont care what J.Hayes does as long as we keep focus on the prize and that is a W.

AD coming back will be huge and makes us deeper.

We have owned the Pistons lately but they werent this good last year.

OP hasnt played in a real NBA game yet, he is, at this point, an unknown commodity. I'd see him on the court just to see what we have in him in a meaningful situation.

Posted by: JSchon | January 2, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm feeling this will be definitely a game that Arenas will be tremendously missed. Per my comment a month ago.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

We just usually seem to match up well with Detroit... Jamison plays well against Wallace, Caron vs Prince, Stevenson can body up Rip, they have an advantage at point with Arenas out, but we should have the advantage with Haywood. We should go to him early and establish our inside game. With DSong and 'Dray off the bench that is the key, rebounding and points in the paint.

Posted by: Darnell | January 2, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Question for Ivan and Mike, how are Arenas and OPech coming along?

Posted by: fire starter | January 2, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Along the same lines, is there any news about Etan? His doctor had said in his post surgery press conference that he'd play again this season.

Has he been released to start working on physical conditioning yet?

This might be a question for Micheal since Etan wasn't real happy with Ivan.

As hot as the Pistons are and with the Wizards being shorthanded a win would be real nice

Posted by: GM | January 2, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I see the return of a rusty AD a negative for tonight. Mason was just starting to hit a groove, and he was filling it up at the PG slot. Bad time to for us to re-adjust again.

Detroit wins comfortably.

Posted by: Wizzy | January 2, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"He'll let you know when you aren't where you should be," Jamison said in reference to Randy Ayers.

Looks to me, EJ "preaches" defense (as he did year after year), but it is Ayers who "coaches" defense.

Posted by: Sagaliba | January 2, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Anybody here noticed that Caron Butler still needs to improve his defense? He gets the ocassional steals, but as far as closing someone down, he aint there yet.

Posted by: bdunkadunk | January 2, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

You can "Preach to the Choir" but sometimes there needs to be some roll up your sleeves hard work done.

My take is that Randy Ayers has "Coached them up" as Spurrier used to say. Through drills and chalk time he's changed alot of little things that the Wizards do.

Just changing Jamison into an average defender that really positions himself well on the boards has been a huge improvement. And not matching Butler up against 4's an expecting him to pound the boards against other team's bigs has been a big defensive switch.

If Arenas comes back and does a decent job on defense this will be a much improved team. Guys like Roger Mason have really improved the Wizards off the bench defensive play.

Posted by: GM | January 2, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"Anybody here noticed that Caron Butler still needs to improve his defense? He gets the ocassional steals, but as far as closing someone down, he aint there yet.

Posted by: bdunkadunk | January 2, 2008 02:41 PM "

I think there are few shutdown/closedown defenders in the league. Bruce Bowen, Bosh, DHoward, and/or Kobe?

Given that, Caron is a hard nosed and tough defender who's willing to go up against bigger and smaller guys. Will he lock down everyone he goes against?

Probably not, but he's not one to back down and "olay" someone through so he can run down to the offensive end to make a quick bucket. whatever CBut's man gets off on him, CBut's mentality is by the end of the game, he'll one up his man on all categories.

If you wish upon a player or team to shut down their opponents, then this game will be ending 10-8. Not possible, and not watchable.

I'm surprised no one here has discussed EG trading for TMac. Supposedly, TMac is disgruntled down in Houston and wants out. Reason? Don't know why.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 2, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

T Mac is disgruntled everywhere he goes...no satisfying that dude.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Truth 100%! We NEED to give the ball to BH early. I think it's his tendency to be aggressive both offensively and defensively if he's having he's share of the basketball AND slack if he's just there to set picks. Same goes with Blatche.

Posted by: Dave, | January 2, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I think whether or not EJ decides to give BTH more touches depends on who Les BouleS are playing. If we are playing against Orlando (DHoward) or Toronto (Bosh), it may not be such a good idea.

For those games, you want to get the other guys on the team in the flow of the offense first, so DHoward or Bosh will have to help out. This will result in easy pickins for BTH. If you go the other route, guys like DHoward will eat BTH's lunch, and dessert.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 2, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

This is going to be a fine game, I think. The starting units match up in interesting ways and Caron vs TPrince alone is worth the price of admission.

The Piston who worries me most off the bench is NOT Jarvis Hayes (though he is having a nice year). The beast on their bench is Jason Maxiell... I have watched him a couple times on NBA games on Canal+ here in Poland and he is a real butt-kicking power forward, a great offensive rebounder... Songaila and Blatche will have their hands full with him.

Posted by: khrabb | January 2, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

My take is that Randy Ayers has "Coached them up" as Spurrier used to say. Through drills and chalk time he's changed alot of little things that the Wizards do.

Posted by: GM | January 2, 2008 03:32 PM

And then how much has the play of Haywood factored in to the overall defensive improvement.

Instead of dropping down guards to help in the paint, Haywood and Blatche usually one-up their man. Just allowing the big guys (Haywood and Blatche) to roam the paint and allowing the Guards to play their men, has got to help as well. A very subtle change, but it seems to work - especially against good 3-point shooting teams.

Those changes HAVE to have been instituted by Ayres.

Posted by: Rook | January 2, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Those changes HAVE to have been instituted by Ayres.

Posted by: Rook | January 2, 2008 04:34 PM "

True, and peer (CBut) pressure helps a great deal also.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 2, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I think the Wizards became too enthralled by the "Steal" over the last several years.

Last year, we heard things like "playing the passing lanes" (steals), "digging down", and "protecting the paint" (Guards doubling down) - and the Wizards were 6th in the league in steals per game, but giving up 105 points per game (28th in the League).

A guard's way of thinking "Defense" ... especially a Guard that led the league in Steals. (Eddie Jordan)

This year, we're hearing things like "closing out on shooters", "proper rotations", and "staying in front" of your man. As a result, the Wizards are in the Middle of the pack in steals per game (16th), AND more importantly in points per game (98.4 , 17th in the League)...

Part of the improved defense this year is due to Haywood. Another part is not having an undersized Center (Thomas) backing up the starter. Another part is that both Mason and Daniels are better defenders than Arenas.

However I think that the more traditional type of Defensive strategy (rotation, staying in front, closing on shooters) is the main reason for the turn around on D - probably instituted by Ayers.

Posted by: Rook | January 2, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"However I think that the more traditional type of Defensive strategy (rotation, staying in front, closing on shooters) is the main reason for the turn around on D - probably instituted by Ayers.

Posted by: Rook | January 2, 2008 05:20 PM "

After Les BouleS recently lost to NJ, the lack of this is what EJ attributed to the collapse at the end.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 2, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

First time reading these posts..
I say "LETS WAIT AND SEE THE GAME."
HOW THEY MATCH UP AGAINST A "NON-LOSING, SCRAPING THE BOTTOM OF THE LEAGUE TEAM!!! As Ivan said..Wizards haven't played a team that offered any competition since Dec 1 & that was the "middle of the road" Raptors who didnt have their major players yet they barely got past them.

Thats scary. You can get suckered into really thinking this team is going somewhere when in fact they can only beat themselves. I'd rather see what they can do against a highly competitive team vs all these mediocre losers. It doesnt really test their mettle.

I want to see them sustain some wins agains 'REAL COMPETITION.

OTHERWISE - ALL THIS IS MEANINGLESS TIL GIL GETS BACK. Literally.


Posted by: OJ | January 2, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Whatever.

The last time I checked, a win against a "real competition" team vs. "bottom of the league" team counts the same in the standings.

It wasn't long ago that Les BouleS were losing to these "bottom of the league" teams also.

Posted by: DC Man88 | January 2, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

DCMan88, I agree with you 100%!!

Posted by: Garry | January 3, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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