Highest Plus/Minus: Juan Dixon (+15)
Lowest Plus/Minus: DeShawn Stevenson (-23)
Best Five Man Unit: Juan Dixon, Nick Young, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Darius Songaila (+18 run to end the second quarter).
Worst Five Man Unit: Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Etan Thomas (-14 at the start of the game).
When your best five man unit is Dixon-Young-Butler-Jamison-Songaila, the best case scenario is that they can perform well enough offensively to trade baskets with the other team, because they sure can't shut them down for an extended amount of time. Last night, we got just that. Songaila will played within his abilities for the most part offensively, Jamison and Butler played at the level we've come to expect from them, and Dixon and Young made their shots.
That was good enough to spark a run in the second quarter that turned a Pistons blowout into a Wizard lead heading into halftime. In the second half, after an ineffective stint from the starters, the best 5 man unit came back on the court and the offense kept humming along like it did in the first half. But the defense, which can be effective in spurts, broke down as they had to play more and more minutes, so all they could do was trade buckets. Sure, it's better than getting blown out, but it''s frustrating as a fan watching them keep it close but not be able to make that one run to grab the lead back.
That's not meant to be a criticism of those 5, that's just the reality of the situation. Normally, we don't have situations like this because we have guys like Antonio Daniles, DeShawn Stevenson, Etan Thomas, and Andray Blatche who can come in and help get you those stops. When those guys struggle, it really limits what Eddie can do with his rotations. Now, with Etan I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt as he continues to get in game form, but the other three's dropoffs are a bit more surprising. With only a two game sample to work with, it's hard to really even offer a hypothesis as to what's wrong with them, but it's clear that they won't get far at all if they continue to play like they have so far this season.
With that said, the thing to keep in mind here is that we've only completed 2.4% of our schedule. If these two games had happened in January, we'd accept it as a little slump and move on with our lives. This is not the time to go out and make drastic changes. I know there's some added pressure because the East has gotten better and we can't afford another slump to start the season like we've had in recent years, but a drastic change now has the potential to not only hurt us now, but it could also end up hurting us in the future.
Besides, we did way better in our second game this season than we did last year.