Gilbert's Arena

Friday, April 07, 2006

Gil on TNT, Hawks Preview, Notes

I'm not gonna lie, Gilbert's appearance on TNT was a little bit disappointing. He looked like a deer in the headlights, and he didn't really bring much to the table. Then again, my friend Maxico put it in perspective for me when he said: "The analysts sweated him for a few minutes while they showed Wizards highlights. That's nothing to complain about." Gotta give it up to my man Maxico on this one. Complaining about national media attention for the Wizards would be a lot like complaining about Eddie Jordan's coaching this season after he led us to our first playoff series victory in 23 years. Speaking of which, if you ARE one of those EJ complainers: A) I hate you. B) Stop reading this immediately and check out the "Recent Resurgence" section of the Wizards' page on Wikipedia to refresh your memory.

Now, on to business. Tonight we face the Hawks at 7:00pm in Atlanta. The Hawks are a sad, sad franchise. Mostly because of General Manager Billy Knight. They're stocked with athletic young swingmen who can all play. Unfortunately, they don't have anyone to get them the ball (maybe Billy Knight didn't realize Chris Paul had declared for the draft?), and on the interior they have exactly one player in their rotation that is taller than 6'9" (Zaza!). That said, this game makes me nervous for two reasons:

1) The Letdown Factor: We've been playing well the last few weeks, we've beaten the Hawks 3 times this year, and we have Miami on Saturday. It would be really easy to look past this game.

2) The Hawks Can Shoot: The upside to a team full of wing players is that you have alot of guys who can stroke it. Josh Childress, Tyronn Lue, Joe Johnson, and Al Harrington all shoot over 35% from three, and red-hot Josh Smith has been at 34% since the All-Star break. Granted, they don't have a Point Guard who can consistently get their shooters the ball in optimal position in the half-court offense (case in point: the Hawks are 7th in the league in 3pt %, but they are just 21st in the league in 3-pointers made), but that's not always a problem against the Wizards' vaunted "Awkward Switching on the Perimeter" Defense. Unless Hawks Coach Mike Woodson is a moron, which he very well might be since he was hired by the inimitable Billy Knight, I think you'll see alot of on-the-ball screens at the top of the key by Hawks big guys. When the Zards switch (and they always do. dammit.), guys like Joe Johnson and Tyronn Lue will have the ball in their hands on the perimeter with one of our big men trying to cover them. Our big men will back off, giving them a look from 3. If they pass that up and blow by, Al Harrington and Josh Childress will be spotting up in the corners for kick-out 3s when their men rotate to stop penetration. To make a long story short... if the Hawks have 2 guys hitting their 3s (top of the key off the dribble, corner on kick-outs), this game will get interesting.


> Ivan Carter has two Zards articles in the Post today: Wizards Guard Against Letdown, Practice Intensity Ratcheted Up

> The Washington Times says that the Wizards Have Found Chemistry. According to Caron Butler, the Wizards "were a mess" chemistry-wise during the first half of the season. The article doesn't dig in much beyond vague comments like that, but I'd be interested in knowing what exactly the players are referring to? If I had to guess, the issues were probably:

A) Chucky Atkins complaining about lack of playing time.
B) Caron taking a while to understand the Princeton O.
C) Jamison and Daniels stinking up the joint offensively in December, making it harder for Daniels to integrate into the offense, and making it harder for the new Big 3 to learn how to play together.

> Over his last 5 games, Gilbert is averaging 10 assists per game, while still dropping 27 pts/gm. I love love love to see that from Gil. In the past 2 seasons, it seems like he either focuses on passing the ball, or he focuses on scoring. His big thing last year was playing pass-first in the 1st half, and then letting it rip in the 2nd half. The problem was, you could ALWAYS tell which mode he was in. You knew exactly what to expect from him when he had the ball (not that that helped people stop him). The more he can learn to integrate the two all the time, the deadlier he'll be. If opposing defenses can't stop him when they KNOW he's shooting, imagine how lost they'll be if he's a true double-threat on every play.

> You gotta love the "playoff beard" that Jared Jeffries is working on. I wonder if he was inspired by Bears QB Kyle Orton?


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