Believing won't make you grow wings and fly, but a lack of confidence is akin to shutting your eyes during a target shooting competition. There is so much talent at the NBA level, that making a shot, stripping a ball, winning the game becomes a matter of inches and it hardly stretches the imagination that many elite athletes are intensely superstition. Rashard Lewis' quotes from the Aldridge article ring true, and I'll sum up with my own: If no one gives you a chance to catch your breath, take theirs right out of their mouth. Killer instinct on the road is a result of mental preparation, of routine, like shooting a free throw. But nothing breeds success like success.
A winning culture is contagious. It's like chores, you know what you're supposed to do when the pressure's off, but whether or not you do it depends on how you feel. When you're making a difference in the right places, it motivates you in a way coaches call ‘night and day'. If John Wall is the weathervane of our times, the wind is blowing in the right direction. Blake Griffin might be a consensus ROY right now, but if the Wizards make playoff noise, Wall will be right back in the conversation.
The halftime strategy where Flip blasted the team for not finding Young got Nick's killer instinct back in the game. I expect everyone to label his 43 point explosion against SAC as his breakout performance, but for me it's that second half against UTA. He overcame an in-game funk to fuel the Wizards second half, delivered a dagger, and never stopped hustling on defense. There's a feeling of unreality when you're doing well, like you're just waiting for things to go wrong. Overcoming the stumble when it happens, that same game, does things for a player's confidence like nitrous oxide does for a engine. Nick Young is here to stay.
Many of us noted that even as Andray Blatche failed to score efficiently, he was showing energy on defense and had been taking more shots within the offense. We just got treated to his most well-rounded performance of the year, and his offense took place within the team's, by and large. If he stays on the reservation offensively and keeps up the defensive presence, we'll scream bloody murder if he gets traded.
And speaking of unexpected, how about Javale McGee keeping two feet on the ground in crunch time? There were violins. It was an "Oh my god, it's full of stars," kind of moment. I was laughing like a maniac when it happened, because he was closing out and I could hear both voices in his head:
Instincts: Dewd, hees shewting! JUMP, DEWD! FLY!
Rationality: NO, NO, NO, NO! COACH FINALLY LET ME PLAY IN CRUNCH TIME!
Instincts: BLOK! BLOK!
Yes, he closed out like a gutshot duck in need of Pepto-bismol, he did the right thing and just few seconds later, it was "Dagger!"
In the Arctic, a polar night can last months. While the last few months bear witness to some of the worst basketball we have ever seen on a professional level, there's hope it's about to end. We have our first winning streak of the season, and today we'll see if we can run it to three games. It may have just been a flash in the pan, or a meteor lighting things up, if you will. We're all coming to accept that this is the reality of a being a fan of a rebuilding team, like waiting for dawn in the land of the midnight sun.