1/17/2007

Knicks-Wizards Tonight


The Knicks face Roger Mason and the Wizards this evening. The game tips off at 7 o'clock D.C. time (same as here, but it sounds cool). Wizards ├╝ber-blogsmith, Pradamaster, sent me some Knicks-related questions for his blog, Bullets Forever. My answers are over there. Two can play that game, so I sent him some questions of my own. Here's what he had to say:
Your NYK: Gilbert Arenas keeps making bold predictions and turning his back on airborne game-winners, but he always pulls through. When and if Gil misses one of these ballsy shots, how are Washington fans going to react?

Bullets Forever: First off, I don't think he's going to miss unless teams try to double team him at the end of games, but I'm sure he'll pull a Matt Hasselbeck at least once and fail to pull through on a guarantee. I'm guessing Wizards fans will probably gasp in shock if Arenas misses agame-winning shot. It's become that much of a certainty.

On a slightly different note, none of Arenas' game-winning shots have been the difference between a win and a loss. Not once have the Wizards turned to Arenas to hit the game-winner when they're trailing this season. Arenas' game winners against the Bucks and Jazz were both with the game tied. I know he had that shot in the playoffs last year, but it'll be interesting to see if he has the same swag when the game is really on the line.

YNYK: Who's the second banana on this team: Butler or Jamison? Or are they of equal significance?

BF: Butler is the second banana, no question. In the midst of all the Arenas hoopla, Butler is having a monster season. He's upped his scoring average to nearly 21 points per game, and he's grabbing over 8 rebounds, an astounding number for a small forward. More importantly, Butler is the only man in the starting lineup other than Arenas that can always be relied on to create his own shot. That's really important, especially in the Wizards' offense.

Jamison has really become a glorified third option at this point. He gets most of his points on spot up jumpers and those funky looking floaters in the lane. I recently wrote about how there's no way Jamison deserves the type of minutes he gets, and while he's still an important piece, it's impossible to argue that he's more valuable than Caron.

YNYK: Have you gotten to see any Andray Blatche? Before he got shot, I thought he might be a sleeper from that draft class.

BF:I've argued many times for more playing time for Blatche, but he's still very raw and makes a ton of mental errors. However, this is what you should expect from a high-school player who was shot only a year ago. The Wizards lack a real spark off their bench, which is proving to be a real shortcoming. Blatche is the only player who can really provide that, and he doesn't need to play much to potentially make an impact. The problem is that Eddie Jordan yanks him too quickly when he makes a mistake, which is the wrong way to go. Blatche ideally should be playing 10-15 minutes a game behind Jamison.

YNYK: If you got to vote one player (and their contract) off of the Wiz, who would it be?

BF: Jarvis Hayes. No question. Many Wizards fans would say Brendan Haywood, but his production is not bad considering his price tag and the price tag of comparable centers on the open market (see Samuel Dalembert, Nene). With Hayes, however, it's really time for him to go. He takes ill-advised shots on offense and doesn't do enough defensively to merit the time he gets. The Wizards are forced to play him simply because they have nobody else. Hayes is shooting below 40 percent, yet still frequently launches 10 shots a game, many of them contested. He's done with his rookie contract after this season, and I really hope Ernie Grunfeld will let him go and use his money to sign a more defensive-oriented wing backup.

YNYK: Finally, where would you rank the Wizards among Eastern Conference teams? Are they contenders to go deep?

BF: The Wizards have the potential to beat anyone in the East, but because of the nature of their game, they can also lose to anyone in the East. They're going to benefit heavily from the East's suckiness, because only Cleveland would really give them trouble in a playoff series. I'd probably rank them behind Cleveland and Detroit at this point, but there?s little separating them from those teams and the teams behind them (e.g. Chicago, Orlando, Indiana). If they get a good draw, there?s no reason they can?t reach the ECF, but a bad draw can doom them to another first-round exit.
Neato. Muchas gracias to Pradamaster for hooking that up. Anyway, it's a big, big game tonight. The Knicks have been iffy on the road, and the Wiz are a hot team that shot the lights out in their last meeting. I'll recap after the game (which is the ideal time to recap). Go Knicks. Peace.

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