Thursday, November 15, 2007

We Needed That

I watched the win against the Pacers last night and I liked what I saw. Arenas came to play and although it was against a Pacers team we were supposed to beat (now on a 5 game losing streak), the offense and defense both looked promising. After seeing them struggle the first couple of games, it was a breath of fresh wiz. Butler delivered another fantastic performance and finished with 25pts (7-7 from the line), 7 rebounds and 4 steals. It looks like this team may be coming back to life. Their team TS% is up to 45.2% (brought down a bit by the rooks, who aren't shooting terribly well). In the game last night, only 1 player (Jamison) didn't have a TS% over 50% (table here). But the fact that they won, with Jamison shooting so poorly (7pts, 1-5 from behind the arc), shows that this team can win without it's Big 3, as long as someone else picks up the slack. In the past, that was a sore spot for the Wizards. This year they have The Beast, Brendan Haywood (more on that below). Their higher TS% indicates to me that they are taking better shots, which I like. It was SO frustrating to watch them bring up the ball, stand around, and shoot the first shot they saw, which was usually a low percentage contested shot from the perimeter (diagrammed here). Yesterday, I spoke about the 5 things the Wizards needed to do to win the game. They were:

Haywood has to be a Beast like he was the first 3 games

Check. Just like the first 3 games, Haywood finishes with a double double (16pts, 11reb, 8 of which were on the offensive boards). Jeff Foster was no problem for the bigger Haywood, who continually abused him on both sides of the floor. Haywood even had a sweet dish to Songaila under the rim in the second half of play, and finished the game with 3 assists.

Gil has got to get to the line.

Check. He did more than just get to the line 11 times (hit 9 of those), he shot 9-18 from the floor while hitting 3-8 from behind the arc. His range from beyond will come, but his 30 points and 11 assists were a must have in this game and adds him to list of Wizards players who finished the game with double doubles (only him and Haywood, but Butler was 3 boards off).

Stevenson has to remain un-slumpified

Half a check. Eh. I wasn't overly impressed with is 24 minutes on the floor. He got 5 Reb, all on the defensive end and dished it 3 times. He did help a bit on D when O'Neal was in, but I would like to see better shooting if he is going to start. 1-3 from the floor and 1 missed 3-pointer doesn't exactly scream starter to me. He didn't play terribly, and didn't hurt the team that much (only 1 TO), but I would like to see some improvement on his part.

Eddie Jordan has to play Haywood and Blatche at the same time

Check. I am not sure how many minutes they played together, seemed like somewhere between 10-20, and when they were, it was awesome. I counted at least 2 tipped passes by Blatche as well as a sweet mid-range jumper that hit nothing but net. Having both of them spreads the floor so much because most teams don't have the ability to guard two 7-footers, especially this deadly combo. Once Blatche is able to hit that 15 footer consistently, he is going to be a real threat in this league. When we had these two, Songaila, Arenas and either CB or AJ on the floor, the Wiz were simply unstoppable. I like the rotation EJ is developing. Shame on you who put him on the hot seat.

Pass the ball

Check. They won in ATL with a season high 26 assists. They finished this game with 23. The result? More high percentage shots. Perfect. As I mentioned above, 11 of those dimes were from Mr. Swagtastic himself. And Simmons says he isn't going to play the point.

For those of you not keeping score at home, 4.5 out of 5 ain't bad. I know, it was just Indiana, and we don't exactly play a tough schedule the rest of the week, but we need some good wins. We need to beat the teams we are supposed to beat. Once we do that, we will be back on track and it will be like those first 5 losses never happened.

Notes: All stats, as usual, from For more info on True Shooting Percentage (TS%), check out Kevin Peltons Stats 101 site here.

No comments: