Monday, April 14, 2008

Trying to Un-Scare Myself of the Wizards

Before I start here are three things you should know:

1) On ESPN2 on Monday night they were televising the NCAA Women's Bowling Championship. This is not a joke. I can't be alone in my amazement that this is an NCAA sanctioned sport to begin with. Isn't that the exact reason that club teams were invented? Just asking.

2) Seeing ESPN's baseball announcers Jon Miller and then on Monday, Dan Schulman pimp Mariah Carey's new CD has absolutely been killing me. Miller took his duties a little too seriously, not even hinting at the irony of a guy like him trying to sell a Mariah Carey CD. I give props to Schulman who immediately mocked the ridiculousness of what he was doing after the fact and openly passed the buck to his broadcast partners for the next read. Obviously, I enjoyed the Jon Miller promo much more.

3) Jon Lester cannot beat good hitting teams and more often than not neither can Dice-K. Wait, you probably already knew that. I hate being negative, but watching teams like the Yankees and Indians pick apart these guys is highly frustrating. As you watch the games all you can do is wait for the inevitable to happen which is of course the game being broke wide open after 15 walks and a bunch of hard hit singles and doubles.

And now, I gotta talk about the C's.

Really, I'm not going to say too much but I do come here to assuage everybody's doubts and fears of the C's meeting the Wizards in the second round. First, let me be completely blunt and say that the Wizards absolutely terrify me as a second round opponent. Part of me knows that they can and should beat them in a 7 game series, but the other part of me knows the hard facts that the Wiz took three of four from the Celtics during the regular season. What makes this even scarier is that everybody laughed off Golden State sweeping Dallas in the regular season last year once the playoffs started and we all know how that turned out.

Keeping in mind that the Wizards 3-1 record against the C's is a 3-1 record no matter which way you cut it, let's look a little deeper at each game.

Game 1 in Boston 11/2/07, Celtics win 103-83
This was both the first regular season game and home game of the KG Era. There was no chance the C's were losing this one. As such, I really don't put a ton of stock in the victory as it would have been a monumental shock if they were to lose this game.

Game 2 in DC 1/12/08, Wizards win 85-78
Again, this is another victory that I put little stock in, this time though the victory went to the Wizards. I was at this game and if you cannot tell by the score it was an absolutely horrid display of basketball. Both teams were sloppy and could not generate any offense and it gave me flashbacks to some Jim O'Brien specials earlier this decade. In the end, the C's gave up the lead in the 4th quarter - which was amazing to me because they never should have been winning in the first place - and lost a game which they had no business winning. So why do I put little stock in the Wizards victory? Well first off, they played pretty bad too and secondly this game was very similar to the C's game in Phoenix back in February where they were 100% out of synch and just plain flat. Those games will happen in an 82 game season and you really can't look too much into them as long as they are not habit forming. I think it is safe to say that that was not the case judging by the 64-66 games they will end up winning this year. Fluke game that was 1 of 82. No biggie.

Game 3 in Boston 1/14/08, Wizards win 88-83
The C's straight up blew this game allowing the Wiz to erase a 14 point fourth quarter deficit by ending it on a 25-6 run. All credit has to go to Washington here. They won the game just as much as the Celtics lost it. But the optimist in you has to go back to the last game mentioned and say that it too was a fluke game in a sense as long as blowing big fourth quarter leads did not become habit forming. They didn't save for the New Orleans and Philly games in March when the C's lost fourth quarter leads due to Doc using the second half of those games as scrimmages and toying with his rotations. You never like to lose games like that, but I'm taking the positive out of this one too and using the fluke/at least they were up 14 in the fourth arguments.

Game 4 in DC 4/9/09, Wizards win 109-95
Because by this time the C's had already wrapped up everything of significance for the postseason (best overall record in both Conference and NBA) the goal for Doc here was to keep Pierce and Ray Allen's minutes to around 30 and KG's minutes in the low 20's. That worked out fine for the first two quarters and then, in the third and fourth quarters, the Wizards came out and blitzed the Celtics. For a while, they did this against Pierce and the Celtics B-Team but then in the fourth quarter Doc decided to go for the W and brought back in his main unit. No matter, the Wizards withstood a Celtics run and ended up winning with relative ease. This, you cannot argue was a definitive W for the Wizards. Sure, they made their big run without KG playing but even when he came back he was more or less a non-factor. They won this game outright.

So there you have it folks. The four Celtics/Wizards games from this year. By my tally the C's won one game that they could not have lost, lost one game that did to basketball what Khloe does to the Kardashian name, lost another game they should have won, and lost a game where they were soundly beaten. The way I see it, the only game that you can really take anything away from between these two teams this year was the game the Celtics lost last week. Not good to be 0-1 but I think it's better than 1-3 right? We'll see. I think I have just made myself a little less scared of the Wizards in the second round, but not by much. It's just not a good matchup for them. We'll see though. Either way, bring on the playoffs even if it will be the Atlanta Hawks for the first week or so.

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