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'Big Three' Playing Small On Road

I used the phrase "so-called Big Three" in my earlier post because Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have come up extremely small on the road this postseason.

Garnett, Allen and Pierce were a combined 3-for-10 for six points in the fourth quarter last night in the Celtics fifth consecutive playoff road loss. Pierce was only one of the three to actually score in the final period. Garnett had two points in the second half.


It ain't easy being in green. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

It would be easy to toss that aside as a one-game blip - if it hasn't become a solid trend for the three players who restored Celtic pride in the regular season but have brought back the return of Boston sports angst this postseason with their inability to produce when it matters most: In the Fourth Quarter, On The Road.

I know Garnett was stellar in Game 1 of this series, when he had 28 points and delivered the decisive bucket, but he cannot allow Anderson Varejao to shut him down - and he cannot lead the Celtics to victory by settling for fadeaway jump shots on the road with the game on the line as he did in Game 4. The shots that worked for him at home - in the low block, with his back to the basket - are there if he's willing to take them. He looked like he didn't want to bang last night.

I know K.G. has a reputation for shrinking in the clutch, but that wasn't necessarily the case in the playoffs - until last night. Pierce and Allen have hit big shots in their careers, but they have yet to put a stamp on any of the Celtics' road games. Why both of those guys have vanished on the road in these playoffs is beyond me. Pierce put up several questionable shots last night, while Allen only took one panicked shot. That's not going to get it done.

In their five road losses this postseason, the Celtics' three all-stars have scored a combined 42 fourth-quarter points for an average of 8.4 points (or 2.8 points per player). They are shooting a combined 19-for-50 (38 percent) in that critical period.


Have you seen me in the fourth quarter?(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

At least Garnett is keeping up his end of the bargain. He has been the most productive of the trio, scoring 21 of those points on 10 for 17 shooting. He actually didn't get a road fourth-quarter donut until last night. Pierce went scoreless in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' blowout loss against Cleveland in Game 3, but he has scored a total of 10 points on 5 of 13 shooting. Allen has had two fourth-quarter zeros, and has scored 11 points total in the fourth quarter for Boston. He has shot just 4 for 20.

For a more in depth breakdown, here goes:

Game 3 at Philips Arena (Atlanta): Garnett, 6 points, 3-for-3; Pierce, 3 points, 1-for-1; Allen, 0 points, 0-for-4

Game 4 at Philips Arena (Atlanta): Garnett, 5 points, 2-for-4; Pierce, 1 point, 0-for-3; Allen, 5 points, 2-for-3.

Game 6 Philips Arena (Atlanta): Garnett, 4 points, 2-for-3; Pierce, 2 points, 1-for-2; Allen, 2 points, 1-for-7.

Game 3 at Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland): Garnett, 6 points, 3-for-4; Pierce, 0 points, No shot attempts; Allen, 4 points, 1-for-4.

Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland): Garnett, 0 points, 0-for-2; Pierce, 6 points, 3-for-7; Allen, 0 points, 0-for-1.

Back in November, I wrote that the Celtics had the potential to be a great disappointment in the playoffs, and I broke down several reasons why they could falter. Boston silenced many of my criticisms in the regular season. But one of my primary concerns was that the Celtics hadn't been through any adversity as a team; that it is difficult to become a contender on the fly, in just one season.

You could see it in the first round against Atlanta, and it was even more glaring last night in Cleveland, but this team still hasn't figured out who is going to be their fourth quarter closer.

Pierce was the primary closer in the regular season, and Allen hit a few game-winners, but in these playoffs, they constantly look like they are searching in tight games on the road. Pierce is laboring down the stretch after expending so much energy making life difficult for LeBron James (and to Pierce's credit, he has been great on James this series. So good that James's mother, Gloria, jumped out of her seat and tried to protect her baby after Pierce grabbed him on the break last night). Allen is struggling because teams are focusing so much on him and forcing Rajon Rondo to beat them.


Sit yo' [butt] down! I got this, mama! These guys won't show up here in the fourth quarter! (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, don't have a problem understanding who gets the ball with the game on the line. It's James. It's up to him to decide who gets the shots or if he'll take them.

And you have to give James props, because even though he has struggled with his shot this series (his 7-for-20 performance on Monday raised his shooting percentage to 25.6 through the first four games), he still hit a critical three-pointer with 3 minutes, 16 seconds remaining and punctuated the victory by posterizing Garnett.

(Side note: I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out why the Wizards didn't focus more on making James more of a jump-shooter instead of just letting him drive to the hoop so they could inflict hard fouls. I think we are "witnessing" a defensive scheme - already implemented by San Antonio in the Finals last season - that's working.)

Celtics Coach Doc Rivers has to devise a more creative plan to get easier shots for his team - and especially his three all-stars - in the fourth quarter.

You have to give credit to the Cavaliers' defense and the disruptive strategies of Coach Mike Brown, who is sharpening his reputation on defense while he appears deadset on punishing us with that eyesore offense.

Even still, it's unacceptable for all three guys, Pierce and Allen in particular, to fail to deliver on the road. This could be all part of the growth process, the inevitable pains that come from learning about each other in hard times. They didn't have many close road games in the regular season (the Celtics went 5-5 in games decided by five points or less on the road in the regular season). And it cannot be stated enough, that neither Garnett, Pierce nor Allen was in the postseason the past two years. They'd also won a combined nine playoff series before this season.

The 2000 Lakers struggled closing out teams during their first Shaq-Kobe-Phil Jackson championship run, and even had to come back from 17-down in the fourth quarter deficit against Portland just to reach the NBA Finals. That team was pushed to the brink of elimination in the first round before eventually beating the eighth-seeded Sacramento Kings. The Lakers lost their first three road games that postseason, but they went on to win four road games before eventually hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy.


Ah! We're at home. This is more like it! (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

In theory, the Celtics earned the right to never have to win a road game in the playoffs, but despite the success of most home teams this postseason, there is always the opportunity to drop one at home. And where would that leave them?

More frightening thought for the Celtics: Let's say they win Game 5 at home, then lose Game 6 in Cleveland. You think they would feel good about having it come down to one game to advance to the conference finals - with LeBron James on the other side, and possibly ready to break out of his funk?

Garnett, Pierce and Allen have to start living up to their preseason billing - especially on the road - if Boston has any chance of getting out of this series, let alone winning a championship with them leading the way.

By Michael Lee  |  May 13, 2008; 10:41 AM ET
 
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Next: A LeBron James Team Is Never Desperate

Comments

1st...1st in line to get cut in the showers!!!!

Posted by: Prison Balls | May 13, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

get rid of Gilturd.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

If DeShawn had used the word "overrated" to describe the Celtics instead of LeBron, he would have been more accurate. Thanks, Mike, for exposing the Big Three as the Big Frauds.

Posted by: Cleveland Rocks Paper C's | May 13, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Please rid us of the hogslop known as the Cavaliers! I'm begging you, Boston.

Posted by: misguided bullets | May 13, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

You may have heard Mike Tirico say at the start of game 6 between the wiz and cavs "The crowd is all over Lebron. One fan just shouted 'where's your diapers'"

Sitting right behind Tirico, that was Barno being quoted on ESPN.

Bang!

(too bad the heckling had the opposite of the intended affect)

Posted by: Barno | May 13, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

If the Celtics lose Game 5 in Boston, they're going down in 6. They have to hold court, then go slam the Cavs in Cleveland. But it looks more likely that Cleveland will take a game in Boston sooner than Boston will take a game in Cleveland.

Posted by: SteveH | May 13, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Sure, the Celts have 3 superstars, but superstars don't guarantee chemistry. It's tough to go from lottery to #1 in the conference in one season, and expect two new guys to blend in so easily.

Their individual ability got them this far in the season, but the playoffs require a team effort.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Could the reason for struggling on the road in the playoffs is that the Celtics rarely faced the kind of atmosphere on the road that they are facing now. Huge games with big pressure. It seems the only time they did was on the Texas road trip.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

LOL!!!

The question that I posed to Wilbon on yesterday's Chat House was printed in today's sports section.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

LOL!!!

The question that I posed to Wilbon on yesterday's Chat House was printed in today's sports section.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

LOL!!!

The question that I posed to Wilbon on yesterday's Chat House was printed in today's sports section.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

the three stars are really one star - Garnett, one overrated player who shows only glimpses of great talent - Pierce and Ray Allen who shut it down on his own last year so he could be as healthy a free agent as possible. He is grossly overpaid for what he contributes. Not a prime timer ever...a paid chucker who when he's not successful chucking has almost no value.

None of these guys are consistent playoff performers. Who knows what they can win?..but its 2 out of three and they have lost control of the momentum. If they dont lose to the Cavs they will lose to Detroit.

There are not 3 superstars in Boston..but I am puzzled they all defer to Rondo...superstars usually lead in the critical moments...not consistently seen with these guys.

Stop with the LeBron envy....

Posted by: yikes | May 13, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Who's envious of LeBron? He has as many NBA championships as me. As many as Gilbert's jersey number. Hah!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Ivan, good Wiz-Caps debate with Tarik on WPL. Two comments. In regard to your comment that everyone gets into the playoffs in the NHL. In the NHL, 16 out of 30 teams qualify; in the NBA, 16 out of 31 teams qualify. Negligible difference.

Also, if I had been Tarik, when you suggested that the Wiz have a brighter future than the Caps because they have three all-stars, Tarik should have countered that (1) that's all-star game all-stars, not overall, end-of-the-season all-stars (i.e., big difference because there are twice as many all-stars in the all-star game and the lesser East has to be represented with twelve); (2) they haven't been all-stars at the same time - Jamison and Butler were both all-stars only in the season that Arenas mostly missed; and most importantly, (3) while in their primes these last three seasons, how much playoff success has it got them, and now Jamison is heading into the latter stage of his career and Arenas' play in coming seasons may well be diminished by his past knee injuries. Alternatively, the Caps' top players are still several years away from even being in their primes.

Posted by: Monty | May 13, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

"Who's envious of LeBron? He has as many NBA championships as me. As many as Gilbert's jersey number. Hah!

Posted by: | May 13, 2008 2:01 PM "

He's a multimillionaire tho....he drove to Cleveland games in a Maybach.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

That photo is classic -- Garnett and Pierce separating James from his mom.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Nice piece Michael, a really good read.

And during the Wiz/Cavs series I said that the Wiz need to back off LeBron, keep him out of the lane and make him shoot jumpers. And if he hits 'em, well, hats off.

Looks like the Celts are making it work...

Posted by: Sam | May 13, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

DCMan88,
Do you know how many rich NBA players wish they had rings? If LeBron is playing for money, fine. But I thought most NBA players and supposed superstars played for something else. I could be wrong. I mean, it wouldn't be bad to have his bank account. . .but I'm not envious of him if the pinnacle of his craft is an NBA championship. Last I checked Chris Webber made about $150 million in the NBA. No rings, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"DCMan88,
Do you know how many rich NBA players wish they had rings? If LeBron is playing for money, fine. But I thought most NBA players and supposed superstars played for something else. I could be wrong. I mean, it wouldn't be bad to have his bank account. . .but I'm not envious of him if the pinnacle of his craft is an NBA championship. Last I checked Chris Webber made about $150 million in the NBA. No rings, though."

Well, Lebron is 23 and went to the finals last season. Also, his team is now tied 2-2 with the #1 team in the East. The Cavs would be a lottery team right now w/o Lebron. Not too shabby.

I think Lebron is clearly leaps and bounds above Gilby.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Lebron's momma coming onto the court during a game is scary. Stern needs to ban her.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say LeBron wasn't a great player, I was just responding to that fan who said we Wizards fans were envious of LeBron. Until he wins a ring, why should we be? Last I checked, only one team wins a championship. The other 29 are all losers, just on different levels.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Enough with LeBron!

Posted by: misguided bullets | May 13, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"I didn't say LeBron wasn't a great player, I was just responding to that fan who said we Wizards fans were envious of LeBron. Until he wins a ring, why should we be? Last I checked, only one team wins a championship. The other 29 are all losers, just on different levels.

Posted by: | May 13, 2008 3:03 PM "

cool.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I believe that if you asked CWebb if he was happy, he'd tell you that he was ecstatic. I truly believe that players only care about winning after they have signed their second contract and are already set for life many times over. Even then after that, most just want to get paid.
LeBron may want a ring but if he had a choice between rings and dollars, he'd probably choose dollars. Remember, he wants to be a 'global icon'. His words.

Posted by: mark | May 13, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

But I agree with you one one thing. Like I told the Cavs fans last month...at the end of the season, he'll be right where we are wondering what his team needs to do to improve enough to get a ring. 1 winner, 29 losers.

Posted by: mark | May 13, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Give Brown and the Cavaliers defense lots of credit for shutting down the Celtics offense. The low scores for the last game shows that.
Cavs also had a slight advantage on rebounds. Until Celts get advantage on both offenseive (second chances) & defensive rebounds, fast outlet passes leading to fastbreak points, they're going to get stifling, grinding, fatiguing work just to get baskets.
BTW, did anyone mention these guys are getting old?

Posted by: rgz | May 13, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

If I saw LeBron in the yard, I'd have to throw down. He'd be feeling that colon shank real quick. Like a knife thru butter.

Posted by: Prison Balls | May 13, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

What is truly frustrating is that if the Wiz had ONLY beaten the Cavs (like they should have) they could definitely have beaten the Celtics.

And praise Mike Brown??? PLEASE! All the man does is gush about Lebron...the only words he seems to know is "terrific" and "amazing." He is sickening.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I truly believe that Mike Brown is a good coach....even better than our very own Eddie Jordan. Cavs defense is truly amazing and if you watch how he's substitution pattern is, it seems that everyone he taps in have timely contribution to the team. I can't say the same thing to EJ.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 13, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse


Nice piece Michael, a really good read.

And during the Wiz/Cavs series I said that the Wiz need to back off LeBron, keep him out of the lane and make him shoot jumpers. And if he hits 'em, well, hats off.

Looks like the Celts are making it work...

Posted by: Sam | May 13, 2008 2:31 PM

No they're not...

Posted by: jones-y | May 13, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The Cs are making it work! They just can't score. How can you say that holding somebody (a superstar, no less) to 25 percent shooting isn't working? What isn't working is the Celtics' offense. They have effectively shut down LeBron James through the first four games. C'mon jones-y, do the math. Don't give me this 2-2 stuff. James isn't beating them. The Cavaliers are winning because the role players are making shots and the Celtics entire team is missing shots. If the goal is to make life difficult for James, it's working. But the Celtics won't win any games scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter. THAT is not working!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 13, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

One LeBron > Paul Pierce + Kevin Garnett + Ray Allen + Caron Butler + Antawn Jamison + Gilbert Arenas. Deal with it!

Posted by: Cleveland Rocks Paper C's | May 13, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

A coach is only as good as his players. Larry Brown went from being one of the greatest coaches ever when he was coaching future HoFers or winning a title to being clueless when he was coaching the Knicks. People were calling Doc Rivers a failure last season, now they're singing his praises.

I don't know how good or bad a coach Mike Brown really is, but there's no doubt that however good he is, having Lebron James on his team (and, just as importantly, in his corner) makes him look that much better.

Posted by: kalorama | May 13, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"A coach is only as good as his players. ..

Posted by: kalorama | May 13, 2008 5:51 PM "

So why is EJ getting so much credit and praise for this past season?

Recall Ivan's scout who bashed bloggers here and said EJ is one of the best in the game.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

"I believe that if you asked CWebb if he was happy, he'd tell you that he was ecstatic. I truly believe that players only care about winning after they have signed their second contract and are already set for life many times over. Even then after that, most just want to get paid.
LeBron may want a ring but if he had a choice between rings and dollars, he'd probably choose dollars. Remember, he wants to be a 'global icon'. His words.

Posted by: mark | May 13, 2008 3:15 PM "

If anybody has a memory here, recall what Gilby said not too long ago.

Gilby wants to win a championship, but if he doesn't win one, he said it's not going to define him. He said he plays for the fun of it and for his teammates, and that he's not going to stress himself out over winning a ring.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

"So why is EJ getting so much credit and praise for this past season?"

He's not getting a whole lot of praise and credit around here, is he? Despite th fact that he has a team filled with holes and gutted by injuries.

Posted by: kalorama | May 13, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

"He's not getting a whole lot of praise and credit around here, is he? Despite th fact that he has a team filled with holes and gutted by injuries.

Posted by: kalorama | May 13, 2008 9:20 PM "

He is actually. Most of the talking heads are giving him the credit for getting the team where they ended up despite being undermanned, losing Gilby, etc. In fact, there was a blog topic here about considering EJ for COTY.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 13, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

anon 5:35 (sam?), if holding bronbron to 25% and having a series tied 2-2 'looks like they're making it work' to you, then we just have different definitions of making it work... At best, that is not a stat for Boston to hang their hats on, given that the series is tied. (ask KG if he cares what bronbron's fg% is) At worst, it means if he gets hot, or even shoots 40% the rest of the way, Boston is done.

You're right bronbron isn't beating them (he'd probably be good for a game, maybe two, at this point in his career if he was lights out), but holding him to 25% isn't exactly translating into wins either...

Posted by: jones-y | May 13, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

"A coach is only as good as his players"

Before the start of the series a lot of observers picks the Wizards to beat the Cavs because they have a better personnel (added by the fact that a bunch of the Cavs were new to the team and just started jelling). Guess what they whip their butt in 6 games. I'm not saying that coach Brown was the sole reason why they won but I believe he prepared the team better and in the end he did outcoached the very limited EJ.

" I don't know how good or bad a coach Mike Brown really is, but there's no doubt that however good he is, having Lebron James on his team (and, just as importantly, in his corner) makes him look that much better"

I guess having Caron, AJ and Gilbert makes you a perennial playoff team and make EJ better as well.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 13, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

"I guess having Caron, AJ and Gilbert makes you a perennial playoff team and make EJ better as well."

Not quite the same, considering how frequently he hasn't had one or more of the three, and the fact that none of them are on the same level as Lebron.

That being said, a coach who wins is viewed more favorably than one who doesn't. And coaches, even good ones, don't win without good players. Jordan's made it to the Finals 4 straight years. Does he benefit from the fact that, despite all the setbacks, he's had players step up in the face of adversity? Of course.

Posted by: kalorma | May 13, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

"Jordan's made it to the Finals 4 straight years. "

Oops. Meant "playoffs" not "Finals."

Posted by: kalorama | May 13, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I've criticized Mike Brown a few times for being a lousy coach -- his offensive is pathetic, and yes, his substitution patterns can be questionable, too. (I remember last year throughout the playoffs wondering why he wasn't using basic offense-defensive substitutions late in games.) But I have to admit the guy runs a very good defensive team on the floor, and just like last year his team defense peaks in the playoffs. All year long and right up until Game 5 of the series with the Wiz it was easy to forget what a really good defensive team Cleveland is.

Posted by: Prazak | May 13, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

You guys are crazy if you think the Celtics holding James to 25 percent isn't working. Let me make this clear again - the Celtics are struggling on the offensive end, not the defensive end. Holding LeBron to 19 percent helped them win the first two games, right? They are defending James better than any team has defended any superstar in almost 40 years. That is working to me. But they cannot win this series if Paul Pierce and Ray Allen play like garbage on the OFFENSIVE END. Thanks. And Good Night.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Boston is a mystery to me right now too. Playing great on D and lousy on offense. Pierce has his hands full, but KG and Allen have to step up.

I was constantly miffed why DS would fight OVER the screen in the pick and roll and play LeBron so tight? Let him take the outside shot all game long! If he gets on a streak, I could live with the result. Stupid strategy by the brilliant coaching of EJ! Hell, he never thought to hack-a-Ben until the bloggers in here had Ivan question him on it. Then that very game we fouled Ben once to send him to the line intentionally - two misses! What a dunce!

All of us Wiz fans can enjoy another 1st or maximum 2nd round exit next year! 1st round most likely. Maybe then we can fire EJ.

Posted by: Rob P | May 14, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

"That being said, a coach who wins is viewed more favorably than one who doesn't"

- Tell that to Avery Johnson.

You can make a lot of excuses on injuries but in reality the Wizards were the better team coming into the playoffs. They were just out played by the Cavs as a team and Mike Brown out coached and outwit your boy. That is why they're in the 2nd round not the Wiz. And if they don't stay healthy and see an improve coaching staff they won't get pass the 1st round.

P.S. No arguement on the "A coach is only as good as his players"?

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 14, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

All this discussion about Celtics failing to win on the road is mute. I don't see the Cavs winning in Boston either. Celtics just need to hold court at home and they advance.

The most troubling sign for the Celtics has to be the horrible play of Ray Allen. What happened to this guy? And why is Pierce guarding Letravel? Posey should be guarding him so Pierce doesn't expend all his energy on defense.

Big 3 should be changed to Big 1 1/2.

Posted by: Wizzz | May 14, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Wizzz, I think you hit the reason; Celtics are expending so much energy on defense. Even with good substitutions letting these guys get their rest, they're still no spring chickens. So the Celtics bench has to generate more points if Allen and Pierce can't.

Posted by: rgz | May 14, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"Tell that to Avery Johnson."

Avery Johnson was viewed quite favorably, until he took a team that had been favored to win a title and got bounced out of the first round two years in a row.

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Therefore, Avery underachieved during playoffs same goes to you know who. Funny on how you try to sway away from the real topic.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 14, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The Celtics are expending so much energy on D that it is disrupting their O.

The next question is how much of the decision is conscious and how much is subconscious? Did the team decide to sacrifice offense for defense? Or, in the back of their minds, are players independently thinking: "I don't want to have to take the shot because I'm afraid to miss and let my teammates down. Instead, I will expend all my energy on defense, that way I will have a built in excuse. At least I will have tried really hard. Nobody can fault me for that."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

LOL!!!

The question that I posed to Wilbon on yesterday's Chat House was printed in today's sports section.

THATS GRRREATTT SON

Posted by: JOJO | May 14, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

C's defense has worked on both LeBron and Cleveland. They've made LeTravel into a jump shooter (25% this series) and done it without giving up a lot of open 3's. This was the same strategy employed by the Spurs when they swept Cleveland last year. The BEST team in the East is Detroit who play tough D, execute on offense, & have tons of playoff experience. Neither Boston or Cleveland stands a chance of winning against Detroit if Chauncey Billups is even 80% healthy.

C's Big Three have been chokers except for KG in Game 1 which is why they lost Game 4. If Pierce and Allen don't step it up, they'll need to win two more games at home to get by Cleveland.

Posted by: wizfan89 | May 14, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

What I don't understand is the Celts have the D going, but don't push the ball AT ALL! Cleveland is just as good a half court defense as anybody. SO, don't let their D get set and push for early offense. The Suns would destroy Cleveland!

Whomever said to take Pierce off of LeBron and put Posey on him is EXACTLY right! Boston may not have to win at Cleveland, but they are playing with fire bc they will lose at home eventually! Wilbon keeps repeating that NOBODY has won the championship without winning at least THREE away games. They're not even close at this point! I got New Orleans and Detroit in the finals right now.

Posted by: Rob P | May 14, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the Celts is that they have a poor PG, and have no depth/experience in backups in the paint. Also, they have a very young, small, and average PG in Rondo.

Also, maybe Delonte West kept Doc River's playbook when he got traded.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 14, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Agree, if Chauncy gets better I see Detroit really giving anyone they play a hard time.

Posted by: washingtonian | May 14, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"Therefore, Avery underachieved during playoffs same goes to you know who. Funny on how you try to sway away from the real topic."

What "real topic" is that? The topic I've been talking about all along is how coaches are judged on the teams' performance and how that performance is judged relative to expectations. I have no idea what topic you're droning on about.

Johnson got fired because his team, which went to the Finals one year and won 67 games the next failed to live up to high expectations, getting bounced in the first round twice. No one (aside from the more purblind Wizards fans around here) expected Washington to advance deep into the payoffs with a team that was without its best player for basically the entire year, its second best player for a long period down the stretch, and with injuries still lingering in the playoffs.

Jordan was praised by people who know basketball for getting more out of his team than its circumstances dictated they should have expected. Johnson was fired for getting less out of his team than circumstances warranted. Does the fact that Dallas lost make Johnson a bad coach? Of course not. He's a damn good coach and any team would be lucky to have him. But coaches are judged by what happens on the floor. And, as in everything else in the world, those judgments are subjective and relative.

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Curious...

If coaches are only as good as their players, then why does the GM/owner fire the coach instead of the GM firing himself or the owner firing the GM?

GM's are usually responsible for player personnel.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 14, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"If coaches are only as good as their players, then why does the GM/owner fire the coach instead of the GM firing himself..."

Well, that's obviously a silly question

"or the owner firing the GM?"

Owners fire GMs all the time. Some get a longer leash than others, just like some coaches do. No one is immune to getting canned if the team doesn't win.

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Did I say Johnson is a bad coach? Uh No.
Did I say that Wizards will go all the way to the finals? Uh, No.
Did I say Eddie Jordan is a bad coach? Uh No (he's not a COTY either).
Did I say Mike Brown outcoached your boy. Uh YES!

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 14, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

So we disagree. Oooh. There's a shock. You can either leave it there and move on, or you can continue to drag it out for no real purpose. Ball's in your court son.

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Fortune Teller, Mike Brown is clearly a defensive coach. Eddie Jordan is an offensive coach. That said, Lebron James bailed Brown out throughout the entire YEAR with his offensive play, which is basically limited to "give Lebron the ball and clear out." Eddie Jordan, on the other hand, had the team playing good team ball, distributing and making off ball cuts, which was shown in the fact that the team won most when the assists were >20 (or something like that. can't recall the actual stat at hand). I think that's what was meant by the "good players make coaches look good" thing. Hell, look at Doc Rivers...the Celtic big 3 were able to dominate the regular season through sheer talent, but now during the playoffs the weakness of the coaching is being shown.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Did I say Eddie Jordan is a bad coach? Uh No (he's not a COTY either)"

Who said anything about him being coach of the year? I certainly didn't (here or anywhere else).

"Did I say that Wizards will go all the way to the finals? Uh, No."

Uh, neither did I. But you did say they underachieved, which clearly implies you expected them to go further than they did, an opinion not shared by many objective (read: non-Wizards fans) observers, given their circumstances.

Again, Jordan was judged by how his players did. To most objective observers, they did better than expected, given what they were up against. Johnson did worse, given the much higher expectations. In each case, both coaches were judged by what their players accomplished. Thus Johnson got fired and Jordan got praised.

Honestly, aside from your obvious desire to argue with me for the hell of it, I fail to see how that's even a little bit difficult to grasp.

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

No comment on the last one? Funny how you skipped that.

"Honestly, aside from your obvious desire to argue with me for the hell of it, I fail to see how that's even a little bit difficult to grasp"

Yes, I think arguing with a guy who thinks that the top contenders are run by the players in their 30's and that AB should go to the gym to "toughen" up is just plain ridiculous.


Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 14, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

DC: The Wiz need a PG like Devin Harris, a guy we traded the rights for to Dallas. What would it take to get him back?

Also, plan B...can we get Jose Calderon?

Ivan Carter: I don't see New Jersey letting Harris go anywhere and yes, the Wizards can sign Calderon - as long as they let Gilbert Arenas walk should he opt out.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 14, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Count me among the ones who think EJ did an average job. He had 2 all stars most of the year and a lot of talent at his disposal. Was he gonna win the championship with those injuries? No. But we won only 40 or so in a weak East. Better utilization of the bench may have prevented CB's injury, too. Pure conjecture, I know. Still, bench utilization and creating positive matchups are not EJ's strength

Posted by: mark | May 14, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe it....this coming from someone saying the Wiz were a finals team as the end of the season approached...

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 14, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Talent-wise, this team should definitely have gone further than they did. I definitely overestimated Gil and Caron's health going into the playoffs. I assumed that he would be 100%. Out of shape but still 100%.
Had we gone into the playoffs with full health we might still be in it but probably not because of coaching deficiencies.
Funny that I am reading quotes from Bill Simmons saying things about his Celts that I said about the Wiz. He said the whoever Wally Sczerbiak was guarding should score at will. We should have run plays for CB to exploit Wally. He also said that we should play off LeBron and make him make jumpers. Everyone on this blog said that. Why did the Wiz continue to guard him man to man? EJ's coaching killed us against the Cavs. We made few if any adjustments. EJ was coaching against our past history. Damon Jones's shot years ago made him decide to guard everyone else and let LeBron get his. Didn't work.
I see the logic in EG going with this team for one more year but if we meet the Cavs again in the playoffs, I expect to get outcoached again. It'll take great individual effors by the playoffs to overcome our coaching ineptitude. I am being a little harsh but it's frustrating to e sitting here every year watching teams that I deem inferior (talent-wise, at least) advance.

Posted by: mark | May 14, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Certainly, losing to a Cleveland team for the 3rd time will make Wizards organization look at itself more closely.

Hopefully, the players will be humbled by the experience; especially knowing that a game here, or a game there would have made the difference in Home Court advantage.

I know that a lot of fans have re-evaluated this team after the Series loss to the Cavs - with a lot of us re-setting our expectations.

I have come to the understanding that the Wizards lack that one HOF player to get them to the Championship. That player will not be available as a FA this year, nor will he be available in the Draft. It's pretty obvious that the League is set up for the Stars to dominate.

Just to get to the finals, you need at least one HOF (or future HOF) player. Unfortunately, players like Jordan, Duncan, Shaq, and Kobe don't come along very often.

In the last 20 years, the Finals has been dominated by specially gifted, upper echelon, Hall of Fame type players.

1997 The Bulls with Jordan/Pippen vs Utah and Stockton/Malone
1998 The Bulls with Jordan/Pippen vs Utah and Stockton/Malone
1999 SA with Tim Duncan/Robinson vs the Ewing-less Knicks
2000 LA with Shaq/Kobe vs Reggie Miller and the Pacers
2001 LA with Shaq/Kobe vs Iverson and the 76ers
2002 Shaq/Kobe again, this time against Jason Kidd and the Nets
2003 SA again with Duncan/Robinson vs Jason Kidd and the Nets
2004 Detroit * vs LA with Shaq/Kobe/Malone
2005 SA with Duncan vs Detroit
2006 Miami with Shaq/Wade vs Nowitzki and the Mavs
2007 SA with Duncan over LeBron and Cleveland

The point is, that in the last 20 years, every team that made it to the Finals (with the exception of Detroit) had at least one Hall of Fame player; or a player that WILL be in the HoF.


Posted by: Rook | May 14, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Make it the last 30 years. In that time, only two teams (Pistons and Sonics) won titles without surefire 1st ballot HoFers leading the charge. When Detroit won, there was a lot of lip service to the idea of changing how teams were built, with the idea of using balance and teamwork instead of spending big money on star power. It didn't last long.

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards aren't even in a position to emulate the Pistons, because while they had (in 2004, when they won it all) above-average talent at all 5 starting spots (and multiple all-star talent at 4 of them), the Wiz have 3 above average players in the starting lineup and two that are average (at best) or below. The Pistons also had a potent bench in 2004, which the Wizards lack.

Grunfeld is between a rock and a hard place. He can't go out and get a big star without blowing things up, which means taking some steps back. But he doesn't have the desirable spare pieces that'll really let him make big upgrades to the talent around the big 3. Unless their young guys take big leaps over the summer, or they get really lucky in the draft or in the FA market with the MLE (both of which seem iffy) good health and internal improvement is really all this team has to look forward to. it may not be enough.

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"No comment on the last one? Funny how you skipped that."

I guess you missed the post right after it where I said "we disagree." (To say nothing of the dozen or so posts on the subject when the series was in progress.) But then, I guess it would be asking too much for you to actually read a post before pretending to respond to it. Why change now?

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

My question is:

What do you guys in here think the Wiz will do next year assuming the same "core" is pretty much in place and relatively healthy?

I just don't see this group doing much of anything except maybe reaching the 2nd round matchup depending. That's not very good considering we will be tied to this group for the next 3/4 years! Wish EG would come up with something bold!

I think it's apparent that CB was only 80% healthy if that although I never heard anything definitive concerning his health status.

Posted by: Rob P | May 14, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking that the Wizards may be banking on Gil to be that HOF player. Looking at basketball-reference.com's site, GA has a 60% probability of getting into the HOF based on his stats thus far. Only 14 active players have a better shot.
Those aint good odds.
RobP, if everyone is healthy and we field the same team next year, I expect 48 wins and a 4th seed. I expect to make it to the second round if we're lucky. While the all star honors sound good, this team cannot go but so far with a core of GA, CB and AJ. Any one of the three would be a solid 'Pippen' but there haven't proven to be any 'Jordans' in the group. I still think that Gilbert has a shot at being the 'Jordan' of this team, though. He just needs interior defense.
I'll add one thing that I originally posted a year or so ago. Almost all of those teams (possible exception of the anomalous Heat) that Rook mentioned not only had a HOF player, they also all had one thing... At least one excellent all-nba defensive player and/or a top rebounding player. Duncan/Bowen, Olajuwon (he was both), Ben Wallace (both), Kobe/Shaq, Rodman/Jordan, Rodman/Pippen, Cooper/Kareem, McHale/DJ, etc.
We have neither a top defender nor a top rebounder. We need to change the formula.

Posted by: mark | May 14, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Mark, I agree and it's not too exciting!

Another thing to consider is that I seriously doubt GA will be 100% next year either. Full strength and flexibility and confidence takes the second year to fully return if ever from what I've seen over the years. Something else to consider with GA supposedly being our "HOF" candidate.

So we are maxed out with this group with no serious championship expectations. Not good at all!!!

Posted by: Rob P | May 14, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

If everyone is relatively healthy, the team could potentially make it to the conference Finals, where they'd most likely lose. And that's being optimistic. Their road's going to be tougher next season, because many of the young teams that finished behind them (Chicago,Atlanta, Philly, Milwaukee) could be much better. If they improve enough to take some more games off the Wiz in the regular season, not getting out of the first round again isn't unlikely.

They need some serious upgrades along the frontline, in the areas of rebounding, athleticism, post scoring, athleticism, and toughness. Or they need a player at another position who can not only dominate the scoreboard, but do it in a way that makes his teammates better. Arenas has the talent, but does he have the mindset? Butler has the mindset, but is he physically talented enough to get to that next level?

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

My question is:

What do you guys in here think the Wiz will do next year assuming the same "core" is pretty much in place and relatively healthy?

Posted by: Rob P | May 14, 2008 5:25 PM


Yeah - I'd have to agree with Kal. A fully healthy team for most of the year - and the Wizards, as they are currently constructed, could perhaps Win their division (50-55 games) and get as far as the Conference finals.


Posted by: Rook | May 14, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

RobP, your original question contains one HUGE assumption considering we haven't been healthy in years.
I guess a better question is the one you posed minus the assumption of good health. For one, I see no reason why we should expect an older AJ, an injury prone CB and a twice injured GA to come back at 100% and stay that way. Compound that with the inevitable 40+ minutes a game they'll play and we're looking at another year like this one.

Posted by: mark | May 14, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Arenas has the talent, but does he have the mindset? Butler has the mindset, but is he physically talented enough to get to that next level?

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 6:01 PM

IMO - no, and no.

But the Wizards are not as far off as most other teams in the NBA - No matter how much the young guys on Chicago, Atlanta, Philly, Milwaukee improve,(and you can throw Charlotte and Toronto in that group) - NONE of them have shown potential HoF type talent.

Now - add a real 1st or 2nd team all-defensive player (Like Bruce Bowen, Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Marcus Camby, or Tayshaun Prince, etc...) - without losing any of their major parts - and the Wizards are close. Is it any great surprise that most of the guys listed as 1st or 2nd team all-defense are locked up by their teams for 3 or 4 more years?

EXCEPT Artest - You listening, Ernie?

Posted by: Rook | May 14, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Of course, if EJ decides to bite the bullet early and play the subs, we may lose more games early on but eventually we may hit our stride and wind up with the core guys healthy enough to make a run at it. If that were the case, I'd go with Kal and Rook's guesses.
One thing bugs me, though. Did we ever hear anything definitive about CB's injury during the playoffs? Based on what I saw, he was at or close to 100%. He wasn't slow or gimpy or anything. It seemed like they just were able to lock him down...no excuses. I understand that he was doubled after his big game and it was incumbent on others to step up. For the first couple of games it appeared to me that he just underchieved. Maybe he was injured still and I missed it when they talked about it.

Posted by: mark | May 14, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Arenas has the talent, but does he have the mindset? Butler has the mindset, but is he physically talented enough to get to that next level?

Posted by: kalorama | May 14, 2008 6:01 PM

Maybe and no.
Arenas wants to win. He's shown an almost maniacal desire to play and win from betting with teammates to shooting thousands of shots to perfect his craft. I like Cb but I've been questioning his toughness lately. One thing that most tough guys have in common is that when they sense weakness, they pounce. He saw Sczerbiak and played like a poodle. That disturbs me. Can you imagine what Jordan or Drexler or Reggie Miller or even GA would have done to Wally? He wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes.

Posted by: mark | May 14, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

mark is wrong again.

Gilby wants to win on a personal level. Team level? Not as much.

Gilby has been quoted before as saying that he's not going to be defined by whether or not he wins championships. He gets his kicks from getting a big contract, getting a shoe deal, getting people crazy for his jersey, and hitting a game winning shot once in awhile. That's about it.

That's why he wants nothing to do with leadership for the Wiz. He just doesn't want that responsibility, although he wants max money and promotes himself to be the face of the franchise. He just wants to have fun out there and get paid to do it.

-------------------------------------------

"But Arenas is also not going to be that ultra-serious, win-or-die guy, because that's not who he is."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/04/AR2008050401705.html

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 14, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

dc man,

as a fan, I can see the problem with Gil's disposition in reference to being driven to win. But as a human being, I can see the benefits. All the ultra-competitive people I've ever personally known have been truly unhappy...

Posted by: jones-y | May 14, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

This big three is really slacking. The Cavs might pull this off.

http://washingtonwizard.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

what just happened? on the play-by-play on NBA.com, it says the Celtics have 50 off a Garnett jumper one second, than 49...what gives?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

what just happened? on the play-by-play on NBA.com, it says the Celtics have 50 off a Garnett jumper one second, than 49...what gives?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

"Gilby has been quoted before as saying that he's not going to be defined by whether or not he wins championships."

You said yourself that Arenas doesn't always mean what he says. As far as I can see, Arenas is taking the same route that most players take: personal glory the first couple years, than a desire to win a championship as they get older.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

here is the big problem the big three with the Celtics have they have not played a playoffs game on the road together so they don't have that chemistry and until they build that chemistry they are gonna struggle on the road the only problem i have is that the intensity they play at home they don't bring it on the road and that plays a key role being on offense or defense it doesn't matter who it is being Garnett Pierce or Allen trust me they are gonna win a title or two by the time Garnett's career is done.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

"You said yourself that Arenas doesn't always mean what he says. As far as I can see, Arenas is taking the same route that most players take: personal glory the first couple years, than a desire to win a championship as they get older.

Posted by: | May 14, 2008 9:41 PM "

Unfortunately, Gilby has backed up this statement time and time again with his actions...and, as Wise wrote, he believes it to be true too.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

"dc man,

as a fan, I can see the problem with Gil's disposition in reference to being driven to win. But as a human being, I can see the benefits. All the ultra-competitive people I've ever personally known have been truly unhappy...

Posted by: jones-y | May 14, 2008 8:20 PM "

Gilby gets paid mega millions to win, not to do things to make himself happy.

If Gilby was a type of player who shows a "manical desire to win," then he'd realize that winning isn't just about taking a shot everytime you touch the ball, but it's also about teamwork and defense.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 1:03 AM | Report abuse

OMG, shock to the heart...

I turned on the Lakers-Utah game in the 4th quarter and saw two teams that looked like 10 white guys on the court. Upon further inspection, it was 8 white guys, one Jew (Farmar), and Deron Williams.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 1:11 AM | Report abuse

back to gilbert bashing ho hum

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 7:09 AM | Report abuse

Gil doesn't shoot every time he touches the ball. He's the best scorer on the team and shoots clutch shots because he has the best chance of making the shot. If I trusted myself more than my teammates, I'd shoot every clutch shot, too. Jordan did the same thing when pre-Pippen. For whatever reason, some folks always talk about how Gil shoots too much when it's not about shooting with our team. Our offense has never been a problem. The issue is defense. Jordan 'shot too much', too. The difference is he played great defense as well. Let's talk about the real problem here and it's not who shoots how many shots. It's about who's not guarding who. IMO, we can distill that down even further to who CAN'T guard who. I think we have guys who want to play great defense but are physically overmatched most nights and cannot (AJ/CB). Then there are some who probbly could but haven't yet (GA).

Posted by: mark | May 15, 2008 7:12 AM | Report abuse

To my point, we've seen what happens to this team when in playoff games when Gil is not there or not close to 100%. Our offense suffers. If we played good defense we could overcome that but we don't have the personnel to play great defense consistently. Gil is not the problem.

Posted by: mark | May 15, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

"Gil doesn't shoot every time he touches the ball. He's the best scorer on the team and shoots clutch shots because he has the best chance of making the shot. If I trusted myself more than my teammates, I'd shoot every clutch shot, too. Jordan did the same thing when pre-Pippen. For whatever reason, some folks always talk about how Gil shoots too much when it's not about shooting with our team. Our offense has never been a problem. The issue is defense. Jordan 'shot too much', too. The difference is he played great defense as well. Let's talk about the real problem here and it's not who shoots how many shots. It's about who's not guarding who. IMO, we can distill that down even further to who CAN'T guard who. I think we have guys who want to play great defense but are physically overmatched most nights and cannot (AJ/CB). Then there are some who probbly could but haven't yet (GA).

Posted by: mark | May 15, 2008 7:12 AM "

Again, if you're all about the desire to win, you must bring it on both sides of the court.

With regard to trusting your fellow players, Gilby can score and average 30 pts for the rest of his life, but if he's as smart as some people think he is, then he'd get the NBA stats book out and realize that teams have to score around 90+ points in order to win games, so unless he can score 90+ points by himself every night, then he's going to have to trust his teammates.

Also, you know you are a selfish player when you brag about how you "took over the league," but then your team was one and done in the playoffs.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

"back to gilbert bashing ho hum

Posted by: | May 15, 2008 7:09 AM "

back to Gilby over embellishing again...sighhhhh.....

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

The whole point of running the Princeton offense is that you don't need a first-ballot Hall of Famer to win it all. Think back to the Sacramento Kings teams in the early 2000's.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Any thoughts on the point guards in the playoffs? Opinion on Lebron's "point forward" dribbling for interminable seconds before passing off. Perhaps that's his job, maybe he is effective and doing his job for his team. Is that scheme any different from Don Nelson's GSW with three guards?
Talk about Chris Paul's 30 points and 12 assists a night. HOw does he do it? How's Tony Parker's "shoot first before passing" working out for the Spurs, how about Rajan Rondo's three point shooting, is that part of his skill set, how good a PG is he with a usual 5 assists per game (though he had one game with 13 assists)? etc etc.
C'mon I like Gilbert but right now any discussion on his playing is irrelevant. Our thoughts on his skills are either from two years ago or speculation on how he might be able to play if he was 100% healthy which he won't be until October.

Posted by: rgz | May 15, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The whole point of running the Princeton offense is that you don't need a first-ballot Hall of Famer to win it all. Think back to the Sacramento Kings teams in the early 2000's.

Posted by: | May 15, 2008 10:03 AM

Hmmm.... I'm thinking back.. Maybe it's my age.... but I don't remember Sacramento "winning it all"...

I don't even remember them getting to the finals.

I do seem to remember that they were a good team, but lacked a certain ............ um ........ HoF type player that could put them over the top!!!

Posted by: Rook | May 15, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Yeah - I'd have to agree with Kal. A fully healthy team for most of the year - and the Wizards, as they are currently constructed, could perhaps Win their division (50-55 games) and get as far as the Conference finals.

Posted by: Rook | May 14, 2008 6:40 PM

Rook - I have to disagree on you on this. The Magic and Hawks are going to be much improve for next season provided all their star players remain healthy. Hedo will be an all-star and Hortford will be 15-10 guy. For the Wiz, Gil will not be 100%, I think we've seen the best of AJ and BTH already. Mason will be gone. It will take an improve play from NY and AB to get us to 2nd place. Plus, we still have EJ on the bench, an average coach who lacks the leadership for the team, loves "small ball", and zero offense/defense substitution pattern. I predict 3rd place with almost the same record.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 15, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"I guess you missed the post right after it where I said "we disagree."

Okay, so your opinion is Mike Brown DID NOT outcoached your boy in the series. Thanks! Good for you.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 15, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I predict 3rd place with almost the same record.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 15, 2008 10:17 AM

Please remember, we were speaking about Championship contention. And what it takes to contend. We were not making predictions for next year.

But, by adding a healthy (or mostly healthy) Gilbert Arenas, and assuming a fully healthy team for most of the year - you predict the SAME record? 43 wins?

Your prediction (3rd place) assumes some "worse case" scenarios... Jordan will not improve at all as a coach. Mason will be gone (and that is NOT a foregone conclusion). The Hawks will improve (ie: they won't lose Josh Smith to Free Agency). Blatche and Young will not improve...

Remember, I was not "predicting" anything - I was simply stating that if everything fell into place for the Wizards (injuries, etc) that the absolute BEST would be to perhaps Win their division. That's "best case" scenario - not "likely" scenario.

If you ask me for a prediction, I'd say the Wizards will end up 2nd in their division behind Orlando. 48 wins. (Gil is worth 5 wins). Out in the 2nd round.

There are obviously differences between the "best case" scenario that I suggested; and the "poor case" scenario you suggested. Your prediction was certainly not WORST case, but very nearly.

Posted by: Rook | May 15, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

"Hmmm.... I'm thinking back.. Maybe it's my age.... but I don't remember Sacramento "winning it all"...

I don't even remember them getting to the finals.

I do seem to remember that they were a good team, but lacked a certain ............ um ........ HoF type player that could put them over the top!!!

Posted by: Rook | May 15, 2008 10:15 AM "

The point is that they were good enough to win it all without a HoFer.

Even the best team needs a little luck to win it all.

If our team can get good enough to have that good of a shot at a title, I think we'd all take it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Detroit won a ring like 2 years ago? Were there any HOF'ers on that roster? Probably not.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I haven't seen that much improvement from the team to merit the "Conference Final" title in your "best" case scenario. I know they have all this injuries but I still see the same inconsistencies from the team every season (i.e., win a big game and then lose by 20+ to an average team). Some of you will say it happens to every team but I don't think it happened with this kind of regularity if you will consider them as a top notch team. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a huge Wizards fan but I just wish they will prove me wrong.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 15, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Detroit won a ring like 2 years ago? Were there any HOF'ers on that roster? Probably not.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 11:08 AM

AS I POSTED ABOVE:

"The point is, that in the last 20 years, every team that made it to the Finals (with the exception of Detroit) had at least one Hall of Fame player; or a player that WILL be in the HoF."

By the way, someone else pointed out that it's actually been more than 30-years that teams with a HoF player have made it to the finals... again, with the EXCEPTION of Detroit.

Posted by: Rook | May 15, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

From the NBA basketball that I've been witness to, there are two proven ways of winning it all:

1) Build a team around one or more historically great players. (Every champion except Detroit.)
2) Build a perfectly precisely balanced team that can play historically great team defense and passably decent offense. (Detroit, 2004)

The Wizards personnel has no chance of becoming either of those two types of teams.

The only hope is the possibility that the Sacto Kings model of the early 2000s is viable. The 2002 Kings were basically as good as the historically great Lakers team with Shaq and Kobe, and they came within a hair's breadth of knocking knocking them off that year. A tiny, tiny bit of luck and they would have gone on to crush New Jersey in the Finals that year. (Remember the loose rebound magically finding Robert Horry in perfect balance to hit the game winning three?)

Sacto was a great team because they played the Princeton to perfection, and their defense wasn't horribly horrible.

The Wizards could possibly become like that Kings team. We don't run the offense as well as they do (and probably never will- our guys don't have the passing skills that theirs had), but we have better options at the end of the shot clock than they ever did. We also have a better closer than they ever did, which was probably their biggest failing when they were at their peak.

Now, can we please learn to play non-horribly-horrible defense? Especially against teams that go big at the SG and against teams with small quick PGs?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 15, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Detriot had a future HOF coach in their bench the year they won the championship.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 15, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"Detriot had a future HOF coach in their bench the year they won the championship.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | May 15, 2008 11:58 AM "

As someone said recently, "a coach is only as good as their players."

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

The Jazz have had a future HoF coach on their bench for 20 years, but they still don't have a title.

Posted by: kalorama | May 15, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"The Jazz have had a future HoF coach on their bench for 20 years, but they still don't have a title.

Posted by: kalorama | May 15, 2008 12:47 PM "

You can thank Michael Jordan for that, and the refs.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 15, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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