Five Qs For the Wizards
It looks bad. Real bad. Like, "Do the Wizards belong on the same floor?" bad. "How are you to believe that the Cavaliers won't bring out the broom?" bad. This bad (look below):
The Wizards loss in Game 2 was the most troubling postseason performance the Wizards have ever had under Coach Eddie Jordan. Even last year, when the Wizards faced the Cavaliers with two hands tied behind their back, they put up a better fight.
One of the reasons I thought Washington could win this series was because I figured you add Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas, even at less than 100 percent, to the Wizards' effort against a superior Cavaliers last season (and I don't care what has happened in the first two games, this Cleveland team is not better than the one Washington faced the past two seasons).
It looks like the Wizards have had Butler and Arenas in name alone on Monday. Arenas is still playing with a bad left knee, then he sprained his right wrist. Arenas didn't blame his 2-for-10 shooting on his injury. But if he is okay, he needs to try and impact the game by doing more than just putting up wild jumpers and trying to draw fouls. Butler had a team-high 12 points - and that should say enough. When the Wizards leading scorer has 12 points, it's a wrap.
About the only positives you can take from this series is that playoff series don't get serious until a team loses at home, and the Wizards came back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Chicago Bulls three years.
The main difference, and it's a huge one, is that the Bulls best player in the first two games of that series was Ben Gordon. The Cavaliers' best player doesn't even need to be mentioned because I'm sure everybody knows by now. But also, the Bulls were playoff novices who had never been in a hostile road enviroment. The Cavaliers are the defending Eastern Conference champions, and new pieces Ben Wallace and Wally Szczerbiack have both been to the conference finals. Wallace has an NBA championship ring.
Now that the Wizards are returning to Washington on Thursday, a few questions have to be raised over the next few days.
1. Does Eddie Jordan decide to put Gilbert Arenas in the starting lineup for Game 3?
The Wizards haven't gotten much out of Antonio Daniels in the first two games (eight points total).
2. Does Brendan Haywood get suspended?
The flagrant 2 penalty should be enough, but the league might be looking to send a message after the Wizards were vocal about wanting to "hit" LeBron James. Seeing James thrust into the air immediately made me think back to Game 4 of the 2006 NBA Finals when Jerry Stackhouse bodychecked Shaquille O'Neal into the photographers. Stackhouse was suspended for Game 5. I didn't think Stackhouse needed to get booted for another game, but the league really tries to protect its superstars - which probably explains why James didn't receive any sort of penalty for throwing an elbow at Andray Blatche in Game 1. I know James said it was unintentional, but there are no inadvertent elbows to the head.
3. Is Caron Butler right?
You have to wonder how bad his hip/knee injuries are, because Wally Szczerbiak is looking like Bruce Bowen right now. Butler might be living up to his nickname, "Tuff Juice," just by being on the floor. Butler is picking his spots and he doesn't look aggressive. He often looks like a decoy on the court. I asked Szczerbiak if Butler looked right. Szczerbiak said, "He had three dunks. Looked okay to me."
4. Can the Wizards pick up the tempo?
They cannot continue to score 86 points and beat the Cavaliers.
5. Will Antawn Jamison make shots in Washington?
Jamison shot 14 of 37 (37.8 percent) in two games in Cleveland. The Cavaliers defended him well on Monday, forcing him to create his own shot off the dribble. He simply missed some open looks on Saturday. He's carried the Wizards all season. To save the season, Jamison is going to have find his jumper over the next two days.
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