Gilbert's Arena

Sunday, April 23, 2006


No doubt about it, the Wizards got smacked at The Q on Saturday afternoon. But here's the beauty of the NBA playoffs, it's not a big deal. As a lower seed on the road you're expected to lose, but if you can steal just one game out of the first 3 in your opponents building, you only need to protect your own home turf to take the series. Last year was the perfect example of this. We lost our first 2 games in Chicago on the road, and the pundits were ready to write off the series. But no NBA series takes a true momentum swing until someone pulls off a road win. As should be expected, the Wizards came home and won both our games at MCI, tying the series at 2. The first significant win of the series came in game 5, when Gilbert hit the game winner in Chicago, sending us back to DC with a chance to close out the series. We get our 2nd shot at stealing a road game from the Cavs on Tuesday night, and even if we lose again, there's no need to panic. Neither team is in a hole until someone drops one at home.

As for Saturday, I don't think this game needs too much of a recap, since it was barely competitive from the beginning. Were the Cavs just clearly a superior team? Was Lebron a singular dominant force that was impossible to overcome? Not really. It was simple, our shots just weren't falling. Arenas, Butler, and Jamison combined to shoot 15-for-47 (32%). We're not even going to beat the Raptors on the road if our Big 3 is shooting like that. The Cavs didn't even play that well. Lebron got his (as he always will), Donyell Marshall hit some open 3's from the corner, and Eric Snow miraculously nailed a few perimeter jumpers. That's about it. We shot ourselves out of this game from the beginning, and you could see that we got more and more discouraged as we continued to miss jumpers. By the middle of the 3rd quarter, we seemed to give up, knowing it was over. The players know they're not going to win any defensive slug-fests, and we're not going to outscore anyone when we can't hit an open 15-footer. Hopefully the Big 3 can get it going on Tuesday, and if not, we head back to DC on Friday to even this series where our jumpers are far more consistent.


> Charles Barkley had a great point about Gilbert Arenas on Sunday night on TNT. He said that Gil is a very good player, but that he won't be a great player until he learns how to help his team win games when he's not hitting his shots. Just take a look at Gilbert's splits in Zards wins vs. Zards losses. In wins, he shoots 50% from the field. In losses however, he only shoots 40% from the field, AND his assists actually go down as well. In games when Gilbert's not shooting well, he should do everything he can to get better looks for his teammates. His assists should be going UP when his shot's not on. He should also get to the line alot more, since the best way to get your points on a poor shooting day is by getting yourself to the line for freebies. One reason the Wizards were a mediocre road team this year was that Gilbert is only a 42% shooter on the road. If he could learn to make the team better with other aspects of his game, the Wizards would be much more of a consistent team on the road.

> ESPN's Chris Sheridan seems ready to anoint Lebron as the greatest playoff performer of all-time after 1 freaking home game against "The Team That Wasn't There".

> Mike Wilbon on Sunday: Lebron was great, the Zards were not.

> Mike Wise was on point with this column on Sunday. Lebron was excellent, but he's not the reason we lost. We lost because the Big 3 couldn't hit the back side of a barn.

> Kornheiser also takes a sensible approach this morning: "You don't have to win the first game to win a seven-game series. Should the Wizards win Game 2 tomorrow night, hello, they'll have wrestled away home court. And come on, nobody looks at Cleveland and thinks, 'Ohmigod, how are we going to beat them?' Beyond LeBron, how many of the Cavs do you think are going to Springfield other than by Greyhound? Cleveland has one great player, and four guys named Moe. The Wizards should beat them. But they'll have to get Arenas, Jamison and Butler mo' better real quick."

> Tom Knott: "The outcome was not about James, really, although the panting gushers in his midst will be certain to portray it that way. You figure it takes two teams to deliver a masterpiece. The problem is there was only one team on the floor."

> CNNSI has a running diary of Lebron's debut, which may or may not have also involved the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers as well as the Washington Wizards. It includes hard-hitting revelations such as the fact that Lebron thinks he is "a human being just like everybody else." Thanks for the great work, Chris Ballard.

> If you're still feeling a little down about Saturday's debacle (not to mention Lavar Arrington's traitorous signing with the New York Giants), this really REALLY helps take the edge off. I watched it about 10 times on Sunday.


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