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"Happy Birthday"

The Wizards came back from a 2-0 defict to beat the Bulls back in 2005 but it won't be so easy this time. The Bulls had Ben Gordon. The Cavs have, well, you know who.

However, it all reminds me of my favorite moments from that Bulls series: After Andres Nocioni played so well in games one and two, the legendary Lacy Banks (hope you're feeling better Lacy. Prayers from every one of us fellow beat writers are with you brother) asked Antawn Jamison about the huge game Nocioni had in Game 2.
Antawn digested the quesion, thought about it for a second and then dropped one of the funniest lines I've ever encountered as a sports writer: "Well," Jamison said, as he looked up with a straight face. "Happy birthday."
And that was it.
The way he said it and the facial expression he said it with made all of us crack up for a good two minutes. Today, I started to ask Antawn a question about whether he remembered how the team felt going into Game 3 of that Chicago series and without me referencing "happy birthday" he broke into a huge big grin.

"Oh, you mean the happy birthday series? Yeah, I remember that."
So there it is, if the Wizards want to turn this series around, they just need to pull an Antawn and just say "Happy Birthday." It's sort of the modern day version of how Dick Motta and a certain fat lady help the Bullets pull one out. (Scroll down and as you do, take notice of the game right about the one I'm talking about. Interesting.)

- For all of the talk about referees and fouls and the ejection of Brendan Haywood (not to mention Soulja Boy, Jaz Z and long-retired Russian wrestlers), the bottom line hasn't changed.

The Cavaliers have played better basketball in this series. 2-0 doesn't lie. LeBron James is trumping Washington's three current or former all-stars.

Because DeShawn Stevenson and Gilbert Arenas talked trash before the series and because the Wizards resorted to soft basketball on the road when they could have stolen Game 1, Game 3 is critical. If the Wizards get it, the feel of the series changes.

The key for the Wizards is Caron Butler. He has two field goals in two games and has looked nothing like the guy I saw put up 40 and dominate that night in Milwaukee when he injured his right hip. Keep in mind that only one player in the NBA this season put up at least 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. It was Butler.

I haven't been able to ask Butler for a take on how he's feeling because he hasn't talked since shootaround on the day of Game 2 but he's clearly off. Before the series began, Butler, who missed the last three games of the regular season with a bruised right knee, said that he was "banged up" but ready to play through it
.
I asked Eddie Jordan about the relative health of Arenas and Butler today and here was his answer:

"Caron seems to be farely healthy," Jordan said. "Gil's far from behing Gil. And we know that. But look, they don't have Sasha Pavlovic and they've got some guys banged up. LeBron's got a bad back. So, you know, we can't use that as an excuse but, Gi's flat out not healthy. He's not nearly the Gil we're going to see in October."

- Rookie Nick Young played the role of LeBron James today in practice. In the past Young has been Kobe Bryant in practice (and then there was that night at Staples Center when he pulled a Kobe by going off on his hometown team in the fourth quarter of a close loss.)

Naturally, and because I fancy my self a comedian, I asked Eddie if Nick was able to take three steps on every drive to the basket. (C'mon Cleveland fan. That's just a little funny). Eddie laughed but didn't say anything. Interesting thought from Nick, who grew up in Los Angeles and idolized (still does I think) Kobe. He was asked about which player is tougher to mimic in practice: "I'd say LeBron. Because he's so big. It's hard to copy that."

-Jordan said the Wizards can't draw much from the 2005 series against the Bulls when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to win four straight. "That Chicago team didn't have LeBron James," Jordan said. "So, it's not like I'm pulling out the tape of that game to get an idea of what to expect."

-Jordan on the pressure associated with being down 2-0: "Well, you gotta play well at home. So, you have to play well. You've got to play hard, you've got to play well, you've gotta make shots. We have a team full of veterans. If we had a young team. A team with second or third year guys playing a lot of minutes, then I'd be concerncd. But we've got guys who have been here before."

By Ivan Carter  |  April 23, 2008; 10:04 PM ET
 
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