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May 11, 2005

Wizards feel the burn

by Pratik Bhandari, Page Editor
Antawn Jamison did his part. So did Gilbert Arenas. And if Larry Hughes had made a couple of shots before the fourth quarter, maybe the Wizards could have stole one last night from a Miami team that was definitely not playing up to its potential.

The series shifts back to Washington on Thursday, with the next game pretty much a must win for the beleaguered Wizards. Without the services of No. 1 pick Kwame Brown, the Wizards have still done a good job of containing Shaquille O'Neal, primarily by using seven footer Brendan Haywood and helping out with Eton Thomas, Jared Jeffries, Michael Ruffin or Jamison. Dwayne Wade has been a problem for the Wizards, but even that could be fixed if not for the crazy production that Miami is getting from their role players.

Udonis Haslem, Eddie Jones and Damon Jones are simply killing the Wizards with their timely contributions. Every time someone doubles down on Shaq, either of the Jones' jacks up a three or Haslem gets the pass and he slams two home. At this point, Eddie Jordan is probably wishing that he had Kwame and his six fouls now.

And furthermore, one of the main contributors for the Wizards off the bench, Eton Thomas, has apparently re-aggravated the abdominal strain that kept him out at the beginning of the season. So how are the Wizards supposed to win?

It must begin with the Big Three. Hughes, Arenas and Jamison must all be on a roll at the same time. As we saw on Tuesday, even if two of them are on a roll and one isn't it won't be enough. Also, Haywood must not only contain Shaq, he's got to produce on the other end as well.

Haywood needs to establish himself as a strong presence on the inside to free up the rest of the team for dribble-penetration and easy looks. If he picks up a lot of cheap fouls and has to ride the bench, there's no way the Wizards can win. By the way, the backup for O'Neal is this guy by the name of Alonzo Mourning, who's only won defensive player of the year twice and is still a good center at 35. I mention this because Haywood's backup is…uh…Ruffin? No offense to Ruffin, who's a hard-nosed, intelligent player but he's no Mourning, not even close.

And finally, as in the Chicago series, the Wizards need to get someone to step up and catch fire for a game or two. Juan Dixon, Jared Jeffries, Anthony Peeler, Laron Profit or even Steve Blake are all possibilities.

The Wizards have a chance, if everything falls into place that is.

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  • Wizards Have No Chance on May 11, 2005 at 6:41 PM
    No they don't have a chance.

    The only chance of them winning is Miami's first string dying + Michael Jordan coming back + getting Kwame Brown off of drugs and getting him back into the game, and the chances of that happening is about 0.
  • wiza luva (View Email) on May 12, 2005 at 12:18 PM
    go 'zards!
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