Because we all need a distraction.
I confess: I was too emotionally wrapped up in news about Gilbert Arenas' suspension to give last night's game my total due diligence. I was watching, but not with the same close viewing as usual. So feel free to take these observations with a grain of salt.
- Caron Butler - what happened, man? For those who harbor some outside thoughts that Butler can get his game going with Arenas sidelined, last night was not the best night to prove your case. Butler took nine shots - all mid-range jumpers - took two technical free throws, committed two turnovers and basically did nothing. This comes on the heels of Jon Nichols of basketballstatistics.com's excellent analysis for the New York Times indicating Butler has performed statistically better with Arenas on the court this season than with him off it. You wonder what this does to Butler's trade value.
- I will disagree, however, with Nichols' larger point - that the Wizards will survive Arenas' loss. The on/off data here I think is misleading, because we've basically seen a month and a half of terrible play from Gilbert when he clearly was hurting the team, followed by a few weeks where, with his legs under him, he's basically been indispensable. I know the former sample is larger, but I trust the latter one when you consider he was getting his legs and timing back from injury.
- Watching Randy Foye and Earl Boykins try to run the half-court offense was painful last night. Flip Saunders' offense is predicated on the point guard creating open looks for everyone with his presence, his probing and his aggression. Neither of those guys can do it consistently enough. Flip might have to reconfigure things and put Butler in more of a playmaking role like he was in 2007/08 with Arenas sidelined.
- I realize this team's man defense is bad, but I'm seriously tired of the zone. Cleveland shot 11/22 from three last night, all because they moved the ball eons faster than the zone moved. It may work in theory, but it does not work with this slow-reacting team. As bad as it was in some games, the defense was actually making strides from the Eddie Jordan years. I worry Flip threw away all of that because he just felt it wasn't enough. I don't know. If the offense was performing better, the defense wouldn't get this kind of attention.
- This game really reminded me of bwoods' point from yesterday. It wasn't Arenas stealing people's shots, it was the bench guys like Foye, Boykins, Nick Young and Andray Blatche who were. Tonight, the Wizards had just 16 assists on 37 made buckets. Everyone's playing like they're out for themselves.
Okay, enough. Numbers, please.
Four Factors (Bold=very good | Italics=very bad)
Snap Reaction: But at least we kicked their butt in the turnover battle
Highest individual plus/minus: JaVale McGee and Dominic McGuire (-1 in 9:42 and 6:12, respectively)
Lowest individual plus/minus: Caron Butler (-22 in 38:18)
Best five-man unit: Earl Boykins/Nick Young/Caron Butler/Antawn Jamison/Brendan Haywood (+11 to begin the third quarter)
- Worst five-man unit: Randy Foye/Nick Young/Caron Butler/Antawn Jamison/Brendan Haywood (-8 right after that)
Snap Reaction: This kind of puts a dent in the "Randy Foye can play point guard" argument.