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Can the Wizards be the new Mavericks?

The Washington Wizards are 2-7 and Flip Saunders points out that the Dallas Mavericks had a similar record last season, but turned it around, finished the season with 50 wins and advanced to the second round of the playoffs with an upset of San Antonio.


From 2-7 to second round? Ja, we did! (AP Photo)

If you recall, Dallas had basically brought back the same team that won 51 games the season before. But they were abandoning the schemes of Avery Johnson and implementing a new program under Rick Carlisle. After starting last season 2-7, the Mavericks won their next five games against New York, Charlotte, Houston, Memphis and Indiana. They were 31-21 by the all-star break.

The Wizards' next five games are against Cleveland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Philadelphia and Miami. So, there isn't any let-up. But they did get some encouraging signs as Randy Foye returned to practice on Tuesday, joining Antawn Jamison, who practiced for the second time this season.

The Wizards' core group is finally intact for the first time since the regular season began. "Ooh, it felt good," Foye said of the mood in practice. "You could see the bounce and the pep in everybody┬╣s step, like, 'Here we go. Everybody's healthy. Let's go now.' "

Jamison said he is anxious to return to action after being sidelined since Oct. 14 with a shoulder subluxation and later an illness. Asked about coming back against the Cavaliers, who have won five of their past six games, Jamison said, "You know us. We don't care who we're playing. The tougher the competition the better we play. I don't care if I was playing an AAU team or the Dream Team, we're going to go out there and play well tomorrow. Play with a lot of energy, play smart and do the things that we normally do."

Fabricio Oberto sat out the final half of practice with a left hamstring injury but said he plans to play against the Cavaliers. Saunders said the mood of the team has picked up with the return of the injured players.

"We've had a couple good days of practice and guys feel pretty well," Saunders said. "We're not a team that you would say has lost six games in a row if you're watching."

The Wizards' schedule will lighten up some in December and get quite cushy in January, when 11 of their 16 games are at home. As for the full circle nature of Jamison's return, he got injured against the Cavaliers last month, yes, but the last time Jamison, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler started together was April 2 -- against Cleveland. The Wizards had their most impressive win of the season on that night.

Saunders had hoped that he could help the Wizards avoid thier annual November slump. After hearing about the Wizards' early-season struggles, he said he went back and did a little research. In 2005-06, the Wizards started the season 9-14 and finished with 42 wins. They were 4-9 in 2006-07 and finished with 41 wins. They lost their first five games in 2007-08 and won 43 games. And you all remember the 1-10 start last season.

"I wasn't aware of how slow they had started," he said. "You can't worry about it now. Because we've been true to form as far as what's in the past. You can only worry about what we have going forward."

The last time the Wizards advanced to the second round, though, was 2004-05 and they started the season 10-5.

By Michael Lee  |  November 17, 2009; 3:31 PM ET
 
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Comments

51 wins is what I predicted and that will be tough going. I am willing to stick by it, though. At least for now.

Posted by: Blurred | November 17, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Is tomorrow night's game a "must win" on any level? yeah, yeah it's still november but...

Posted by: divi3 | November 17, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Can they do it? Yes. Will they? Can't say. SE Division is tough.

Posted by: MBUSA | November 17, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

If they move Gilbert to the 2 yes. He doesn't handle the ball particularly well, never has, and turns the ball of too much to be a true point guard.

THEY NEED TO TRY AND GET AI!!!!

Posted by: kevenjones | November 17, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Not a "must Win" but a "sure would be a good win"

A win means a lot, a loss means more excuses but in the end doesn't mean anymore than their last loss or the next one.

Posted by: Blurred | November 17, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

AI? That would be a debacle. I actually wish Cleveland would get AI, he'd throw a major monkey wrench in their whole setup...

Posted by: MBUSA | November 17, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

anyone need tix to tom. game? i got two club level goin for 200...thats 50 off reg price

Posted by: jasonma1 | November 17, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"If they move Gilbert to the 2 yes. He doesn't handle the ball particularly well, never has, and turns the ball of too much to be a true point guard.

THEY NEED TO TRY AND GET AI!!!!

Any programmers here? I need a way to get that string of text to repeat in a closed, endless loop across the screen with the sound of harsh, derisive, mocking laughter in the background.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 17, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

^ seriously Gilbert moving to shooting guard is not happening... i feel like its Groundhog Day between this clown and larryisforestgump

Posted by: prescrunk | November 17, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

also Kal, lol @ dude referring to AI as a "true point guard"

*harsh mocking laughter*

Posted by: prescrunk | November 17, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

MBUSA - that's what i was trying to say a couple days ago, but it came out that I said AI was in Cleveland

Maybe I was just a few days early!!!

Posted by: Blurred | November 17, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Hated AI since his HS assault days, but i will say when he played that first preseason game in Richmond (or rather didn't play but was in uniform on the bench) he spent 20 minutes signing autographs and getting pics taking. Pretty gracious and I was a little surprised.

Posted by: Blurred | November 17, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

He's from VA Blurred. Why are you surprised?

Posted by: elfreako | November 17, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Contrary to common misconception, AI was one of the few players to rep the USA well on that ill-fated Olympic squad.

1st Ballot HOFer

dont want him anywhere near this team tho

Posted by: divi3 | November 17, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I know where he's from. Just surprised at how gracious and kind he was...

Posted by: Blurred | November 17, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

btw, there is some pretty great youtube footage of AI playing high school ball.

At some important state game his team was down by 5 and he taunted opposing coach to kick him the ball, won game on 90yd return or some such. sick

Posted by: divi3 | November 17, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Monta Ellis is a cry baby moron.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4664192

First you injure yourself on your own.

Then you lie to your ball club.

When you are caught red handed with the lie, you get mad b/c the team fines you.

Cry baby.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3567032

http://prolificsociety.com/2008/09/01/nba-monte-ellis-injury-update/

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 17, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

So, Blurred, you hate AI because he got set up to take the fall for a high school fist fight in which it is now widely acknowledged that the cops acted out of racism and that Iverson was fairly innocent? Go ahead and hate him for not being a team player and being a diva, but don't hate on him for that. I mean, it was rural, backcountry Virginia

Posted by: Urnesto | November 17, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I have to agree with Kal on this one -- signing AI would be the single worst move the Wizards could make at this point. (Other than signing Marbury of course).

Posted by: Urnesto | November 17, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

doesnt sound like Ellis is mad because he was fined. Sounds like the whole organization is imploding due to its own dysfunction and nelson's fat ego.

Posted by: divi3 | November 17, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

@Urnesto,

I think you are spewing nonsense on what actually happened. He was charged with rioting and inciting mayhem or something like that and was guilty and admitted it. Had nothing to do with racist cops. He got a second chance and made the most of it. Good on him.

Posted by: rphilli721 | November 17, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

as i recall, he and friends were bowling and supposedly some n-bombs were thrown their way, huge fight ensued. AI charged with riot etc for unloading a chair on somebody WWE stylie

not sure though, was so long ago

Posted by: divi3 | November 17, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

That whole bowling alley thing was out as a bunch of B.S. years ago. It was basically stupid dustup between a group of Black H.S. kids and a group of white H.S. kids over nothing much at all (that started, i beleive, because the white kinds didn't want the black kids in "their" bowling alley0, but only the Black kids got charged with serious crimes, charges that were later dropped/pardoned/commuted (can't remember which, specifically).

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 17, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I've ALWAYS been an AI fan, no matter what he has done. That dunk he did like over the whole Villanova? team when he played with Georgetown was one of the best dunks I've ever seen in my life.

Just please not on the Wizards.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | November 17, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Go ahead and hate him for not being a team player and being a diva, but don't hate on him for that. I mean, it was rural, backcountry Virginia.

Hampton, Va. Rural?? I don't think so.

Posted by: VBFan | November 17, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I really hope Shaq didn't have sex with Gil's fiancee. That would ruin my life.

Posted by: mepalmeryoshi | November 17, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

AI is Arenas, with poorer practice habits and less fashion sense.

Posted by: SammyT1 | November 17, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

AI is a baller, but I really am astounded how he is demanding that he must start if that is really the case.

However, start or not, no way for the Wizards.

Am glad to see a laugh from Kalo_rama on top of it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 17, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I am surprised to see the vote going as it is. I thought it would be closer to even or the other way.

Maybe all the Wizard naysayers haven't voted yet or most actually believe in these Wizards but won't admit it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 17, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a naysayer and I voted no way the Wizzies win 50.
They have 73 games left.
They would need to win 48 of 73.
I'd love to see it but I ain't gonna bet my $ on it.

Posted by: VBFan | November 17, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

BLURRED:

51 wins. Mine was 38. Hopefully ther truth lies somewhere in between. At this point, I would be truely pleased with making the playoffs as the eight seed.

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 17, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Go ahead and hate him for not being a team player and being a diva, but don't hate on him for that. I mean, it was rural, backcountry Virginia.

Hampton, Va. Rural?? I don't think so.

Posted by: VBFan | November 17, 2009 6:51 PM | Report

You go VIRGINIA BEACH FAN. Explain to these hicks how cosmopolitan TIDEWATER really is.

Signed,
Former SUFFOLK boy, better known as

Posted by: glawrence007 | November 17, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

We don't need AI on this team b/c we don't need another player all tatted up and disgusting.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 17, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I say we should definitely sign AI. And while we're at it, why don't we trade AJ for Zach Randolph, sign Stephon Marbury and start him alongside Gil, and for our boldest move, trade Mike Miller, Nick Young and cash for Stephen Jackson.

That should do it. We could start Gil and Stephon in the backcourt, play Jackson along with Randolph up front, and start JaVale. I say we win 70 games and do a cakewalk to the championship.

Posted by: bpybay | November 17, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

"That should do it. We could start Gil and Stephon in the backcourt, play Jackson along with Randolph up front, and start JaVale. I say we win 70 games and do a cakewalk to the championship."

On second thought, replace Gil with AI.

Posted by: bpybay | November 17, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

A few times this year this team has shown some glimpses of what they're capable of achieving when they're hitting on all cylinders (the Dallas and Nets games offering continuous examples -- they've had stretches in other games, but have fallen out of sync at other points in the same games).

They have the talent and the coaching. If they can grasp Flip's offense and stick too it, then they have a legitimate shot at 50.

Posted by: JPRS | November 17, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 17, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Currently, Haywood is #2 in blocks per game and #3 in offensive rebounds (#7 in total rebounds).

Posted by: sagaliba | November 17, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

No surprise, it's going to be all about injuries. It's early in the season, and this squad has set a definite tone of being fragile. My prediction: heartbreak.

Posted by: PostSubscriber | November 17, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Ha! Ha! LMAO. Jameer Nelson out for a month to a month and a half.

I am not a Rafer Alston fan, but I think it was cruddy for him to be kicked to the curb so quickly in the playoffs and traded when Jameer returned last year.

Now that Jameer is out again lets see how Orlando fairs. What goes around comes around.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 17, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Wizards make the playoffs and do well. However, does anyone know if in the history of the NBA, has a team started 2-7 and made it beyond the second round of the playoffs?

Posted by: Theone9 | November 17, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

AI's high school football video clips looked good, but his coach comparing him to Deion Sanders is ridiculous. Maybe he could have been another Dante Hall based on his moves, or he could have developed into a quality pro corner. Hard to say. Compared to local legends like Charlie Garner, Eric Metcalf, or a VA high school great like Andre Yates, AI's football clips are impressive, but not unworldly. His basketball clips are a different story. Maybe he could have been a good NFL player, but it's hard to see any regrets in his ultimately opting for basketball.

Posted by: JPRS | November 18, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

ok wiz u got both guns loaded now! the true wiz fans are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt (although other teams have had "star" injuries and have competed) let's see what you got! great test on wednesday against your nemesis...we need you to go in "man down with your boots laced up"!! i'm excited to see this finished product...i'm ready to support (always a d.c. team fan 4life-no matter what) let's do this!! it's on...

Posted by: ronniecope106 | November 18, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Is this articla a joke. Which team would you rather have. A team led by Dirk, Kidd and Jason Terry or one by Gil, Butler and Jamison. I'm a Wiz fan but let's get serious. This team is not built to be successful. Jamison and Butler couldn't break into the starting lineup in Dallas.

Posted by: rnbrown4 | November 18, 2009 6:28 AM | Report abuse

So your question is "can a team that won 19 games last year and hasn't broken 45 wins in 30 years win 50+ games in repeating the feat of a team that's won 50+ games this entire decade?"

Cocaine is a helluva drug

Posted by: ArlingtonHokie | November 18, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Big game tonight...I'll be in the building...it should be fun.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 18, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

As stated by many others, this team is poorly built and poorly run. The biggest "stars" are injury-prone and, quite frankly, not that good. Antawn will give the team a little life until his shoulder goes out again. There's no way this team wins 50 games. If they win 40 games they should be considered wildly successful. That should be good enough for the 7-8 seed and a certain first round exit.

Posted by: tgif11 | November 18, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

So, Blurred, you hate AI because he got set up to take the fall for a high school fist fight in which it is now widely acknowledged that the cops acted out of racism and that Iverson was fairly innocent? Go ahead and hate him for not being a team player and being a diva, but don't hate on him for that. I mean, it was rural, backcountry Virginia

Posted by: Urnesto | November 17, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

You have no idea what you are talking about. As stated above, Hampton isn't exactly rural backwater VA, even if it isn't manhattan either. Think Mt Vernon area or Arlandria.

Secondly, he beat another kid with a chair, not jsut a dust-up, not just a WWE whack with the chair, but beat him with it.

His momma got some State delegates to get the Gov at the time (Wilder) to give him a commutation based on his promise to go to G-Town and complete a degree.

Obviously, he didn't hold to his promise. Thompson said when he quit coaching, that he had no interest in coaching uncoachable talent like Iverson and Starbury that would only stay a year or two and that was the future of college basketball. He regularly got stopped on 295 cutting northeast of Richmond for speeding and guns in the car (a no-no even in VA when you are on probation).

Great Basketball player. A team killer and a poor citizen. But he was kind and gracious for 20 minutes in Richmond last month.

Posted by: Blurred | November 18, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"Thompson said when he quit coaching, that he had no interest in coaching uncoachable talent like Iverson and Starbury that would only stay a year or two and that was the future of college basketball."

Okay, that's a flat out lie.

Big John loves Iverson. He talks about him with obvious fondness and defends him from criticism on his radio show to this day. Moreover, it was widely reported at the time that it was Thompson himself who counseled Iverson to leave Georgetown and go pro because there was nothing left for him to do in college.

Hey, tell us some more about what a bad guy Gerald Wallace is while you're at it.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 18, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

He regularly got stopped on 295 cutting northeast of Richmond for speeding and guns in the car (a no-no even in VA when you are on probation.

Wow. Regularly stopped in VA with guns in the car? And you're black....I'm not buying that one at all...sorry.

Great Basketball player. A team killer and a poor citizen. But he was kind and gracious for 20 minutes in Richmond last month.

So you're basing his entire exsistence off of media coverage and the 20 minutes you saw him? I've seen him a few times and he's never been a "poor citizen" come on...you really can't base a judgement of someone's character from the media coverage...lol

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 18, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

SDMDTSU - Got stopped speeding 90+ mph.

A felon with guns in the car is not race based

Iverson has no regard for the law, even though I am sure that Hampton is/was a racist place. but the fact that a guy has never shown respect for any authority, doesn't mena all the authority is racist.

Kalo - didn't mean that Thompson didn't like Iverson, but he did say that he had no interest coaching kids for a year or two and that was what all the best players were doing. So to be competitive, you had to get the best players. And they would leave within a year or two. thus, his cunundrum that he said led to his retirement. the uncoachable comment is true of Iverson in the best way - as you said, thompson counselled Iverson to leave cuz there was nothing left to learn in college; and the worst way - he has no respect for coaches, teamates or ???

Look, I don't like him cuz he is a recidivist criminal that has been given more opportunities and had more excuses made for him bc he is a great ball player. If you all are OK with that, then by all means support him.

Posted by: Blurred | November 18, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

AI gets a bad rap from his image (cornrows etc) and the fact he's never been particularly polished from a media standpoint. Pretty much says what he thinks.

And of course, he's had a few incidents over the years.

But note how people regularly refer to his supposedly atrocious behavior at the Olympics, embarassment to USA, etc...then read the truth:

"For as anybody who grew up in the U.S., and was able to be a basketball player in the NBA, you understand the things that your country has done for you and your family," he said. "It gave you an opportunity to be able to support your family and be recognized as a household name. It was just an honor to be able to do something like that, and I would advise anybody selected to a team like this to take that honor and cherish it.

"It shouldn't be a question in your mind. When you get a chance to represent your country, what's better than that?"

http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/summer04/basketball/columns/story?id=1870490

Posted by: divi3 | November 18, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure the gun on I-95 was AI's and legal to have in the car so charges were dropped.

he also had a joint or two in the car and was charged as such i think.

Posted by: divi3 | November 18, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"And if you've ever seen Iverson with ot heard him talk about Thompson, it's quite clear that he has tremendous respect for him to this day, so much so that I'd wager had Thompson asked him to stay at G-Town then Iverson would have.

Look, I'm not a particular fan of Iverson's either, but if you're going to mount an argument against him, try to stick to facts that can't be so easily shot down. Saves you a lot of grief that way.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 18, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"pretty sure the gun was his?"
come on man...that was in like what? 96?

The thing that gets me about Iverson is the positive stuff he does you never hear about. I have a lot of friends from the Hampton area and in Philly and from what I heard he did a lot of good in the community...you just don't hear about it.

My comment wasn't race based...but for you to say he was REGULARLY stopped with guns...A black man in VA...that's not happening. They will nail you to the wall.

VA doesn't play...at all.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 18, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The gun in the car was Iverson's as I recall, meaning legally owned by him in the Commonwealth of Va. I'm not sure why anyone would have an issue with that, it's legal to own a gun.

I think it's the joints which triggered the charges, you cant be in possession of a gun and drugs.

In the end it was misdemeanor, because it was just a few joints.

Posted by: divi3 | November 18, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Iverson is a 6" shooting guard who needs the ball in his hands to create...not a complimentary type of player which is why Denver traded him for Billups. He's at the end of his career and would need to accept a role as 6th man on a good team like Cleveland, San Antonio, or Boston where he could play 15-20 minutes a night.

The Wizards signed Boykins to give them a true backup PG to play next to Arenas in certain situations. They also have Foye back tonight who can play the point. Gil is still rusty and getting used to a new offense. I think we all knew it would take 15-20 games of playing together to work the kinks out. With Jamison and Miller back, hopefully we'll start playing more consistently.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 18, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Sure, the Wizards can finish with 50 wins. All they have to do is finish out 48-25 over the next 73 games. In that they're currently 2-7, they might have to kidnap Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd to accomplish this....

Posted by: randysbailin | November 18, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

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