Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wizards: Even More Successful

After a five-game tune-up, where Eddie Jordan figured out his mysterious rotations, Gilbert Arenas figured out the proper fluid level of his precious knee, Caron Butler figured out how to maintain offensive possession without dribbling the ball off of a latent burger king straw, Andray Blatche figured out where to rub and tug his defenders on the screen and roll, and Antawn Jamison figured out the mystery of his jump shot, the Wizards properly began the successful portion of their 2007-2008 season with a win over those once hapless Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks, having held strong at home against powerhouses like the Suns, and some other team from the Western Conference, could not stand the consistent offensive pressure that four consecutive adequate quarters of Wizards-brand basketball ultimately provides. The manner in which the Wizards strung together competant basketball in one 15-minute stretch of play after another is a sure sign of brilliance to come. Over the past few seasons, the Wizards started slowly, digging themselves into that metaphoric early season hole that only players-only meetings, occassional defense non-lapses, and shots actually circumventing their original rim-based origins and supplanting themselves in between the nets can properly cause this funk emergence.

Early on in the season, the manner in which the Wizards would forgoe basket-making in lieu of entertaining television (whether it be high-flying Denver Nuggets or reeeeeeaaallllly close fourth quarters), was something that Wizards fans couldn't possibly fathom without finding a properly blameable person. While we have our own viable scapegoat, no one wearing a Wizards-issued uniform should face the fan's proverbial (or verbal) wrath. Especially after reading this sweet Ivan Carter blog post where he eavesdrops on one of those scout guys who notes how this team just loves playing for the oft-hated-on Eddie Jordan. So you see? The guys just needed some time to figure out the whole playing-with-a-gimptGilbert thing again. They needed some time to adjust to their high expectations, their unyielding potential, and their Grun-perfect structure.

And you know what, this season is actually starting out on a higher note. Last season -- a season that was uber-successful in our eyes -- the Wiz dropped their first eight away games before finally making headway against the still-hapless Knicks. But this year, the Wiz have been a quite respectable team on the road, not losing in regulation against the Pacers, again coming pretty close against the Nets, and then coming together to beat those now-respectable Hawks. A win on the fourth road game this season is obvious progress over last season, and the DC Optimist is firm in their belief that this team is ahead of previous paces, and will motor into and deep in playoff territory. John Hollinger may be cackling inside of his cuishy ESPN Insider office in Bristol, continuing to bemoan the Wizards lack of bigs, lack of defense, and thus, lack of wins. But the defense is actually slightly improving. Not to mention a big that we already mentioned having a sick year (that's now 4 double-doubles in 5 games).

Despair need not be felt in Washington, not for the still-playoff sighting 'skins, still potentially great Caps, and now emerging Wizards. No, that despair ought to be reserved for Hollinger darling picks in Chicago, a team that has limped to a 1-5 start seemingly crippled by something as trivial as trade rumors. Or despair could be felt in Miami, where the football team is terrible, and the NBA basketball team, one that features all kinds of guys everyone inexplicably blows foul whistles in favor of, is on equally lame standing.

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