Wiz-Cs Part IV
Big game tonight at Verizon Center - for the Wizards at least - with the Boston Celtics in town. Antawn Jamison participated in the morning shootaround today and will start. There won't be a dramatic, Arenas-like entrance. He won't come in wearing a sling on his arm, rip it off then flex for the crowd. He will be introduced with the other starters.
"You know me," said Jamison, adding that Gilbert's ode to Willis Reed last week threw off the team some when the game against Milwaukee started. "We was like, 'Where is he?' "
And everybody here knows what happened that night. Jamison certainly can't forget. He said he didn't think he'd back after missing just two games, but he felt good this morning and the shoulder is better. He joked that he's been pumping iron and didn't feel any complications - which is rather impressive, considering that Jamison said he had trouble lifting his arm above his head as recently as Monday.
Caron Butler and Darius Songaila appeared to be fine after their collision on Monday, so Coach Eddie Jordan should have his full complement of players - with the exception of Etan Thomas, who has been practicing but isn't expected to be back any time soon. A league source said the team still hasn't ruled out Thomas for the rest of the season, altough Thomas is still having some difficulty with his wind during practices.
I'm not sure how the Celtics will approach this game, since Coach Doc Rivers has been resting up his players as they get ready for the playoffs - Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen all played fewer than 23 minutes last night in their overtime win against Milwaukee and didn't play at all against Charlotte on Saturday.
Boston has won seven straight and really doesn't need the game, having wrapped up homecourt throughout the playoffs - but payback could be in the back of the brain for the Celtics. They surely have memories of that last meeting in January, when the Wizards came back from 13 down in the final six minutes to pull out one of the most surprising wins of the season.
"That's one thing about this team. Any time we get down, or things don't look good, we never put our heads down. We always stay confident. We always believe we can win," said Jamison. "That's a good trait to have. A lot of teams can't do that. But it shows what we're capable of doing. We understand that, we realize that."
What the Wizards will have to prove that they are capable of doing is winning a season series against the team with the best record in basketball. Right now, Orlando and Washington are the only teams with winning records against Boston. The Wizards could become the only team with three wins over the Celtics this season.
I also came across a pretty interesting note today. These next five games are of extreme importance if they want to catch Cleveland for fourth. They would have to pretty much win out and hope the Cavs go 3-2 (right now, the Wizards have a better conference record if the teams wind up even).
But also, if the Wizards can defeat Detroit on Friday, Philadelphia on Saturday and Orlando in the season finale, they wouldn't have a losing record against any of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards are 2-1 against Boston; 1-1 against Detroit; 1-2 against Orlando; 2-2 against Cleveland; 3-1 against Toronto; 1-2 against Philadelpiha; and 2-2 against Atlanta. What does that mean? Not much. The playoffs are a totally different animal.
But not bad to know you can beat these teams, huh?
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