Now that it is Monday, it's a good time to reflect back on the weekend that was....and what a weekend it was for the Wizards! The city was popping with excitement for Friday night's Game #3 at the VC. That game went to the Bulls, but the controversy carrying over from that game filled the next day and before you knew it the ball was in the air for a Sunday matinee. So as I sip on my 3rd cup of coffee this morning, I am trying to put some of my thoughts and emotions into words.
1. How good are the Bulls and are they a true test of what to expect in the Playoffs? My initial reaction to this question is no. With no Derrick Rose, the Bulls lack an explosive offensive player, one that can lift his team and dominate when needed. Sure Joakim Noah is an All Star and DPLOY, but he's not a lead offensive option and never will be. Taj Gibson has been unbelievable for the Bulls (which makes me wonder what the conversations were with Chi when the Gibson to DC rumors surfaced), but overall the Bulls don't have players that cause sleepless nights for the opposition.
The Bulls struggled to score all season and the Wizards have had several games now to prepare for them and how to minimize the offensive talents they do have. When you look at the Bulls starting five, it's really sub-par for this time of year. With Hinrich, Butler, Dunleavy, Boozer, and Noah, it's really not that good comparatively to the other playoff teams outside of Noah. Should the Wiz advance into the Eastern Semi's, the talent level they will be facing will be unlike anything the Bulls have prepared them for, while it was pretty clear after 2-3 games for everybody that has been watching that the Wizards have the much better and more talented team.
2. I've been super critical of Ted Leonsis for the past two full years, but I give credit where credit is due and he gets a bump up in my book for wearing a Nene jersey to yesterday's game. At first when I saw him in a jersey, I thought he was wearing a Wall jersey, as that made the most sense in my mind, although I thought that would have been really weird (and quasi "weak"). However when the camera showed it was a #42, I was instantly impressed and appreciated his bold support for one of his guys. I place 100% of the blame for Nene's suspension on Nene, because he's supposed to be their leader and not the guy that gets caught in the moment. He failed them at a critical time, yet despite those feelings of disappointment towards Nene, I respect Ted more today for having his guy's back on a national stage the way he did.
3. Bradley Beal is the player rising the highest on the national stage. Making the postseason this year and having games on TNT, ESPN, and ABC was going to be huge exposure for their young back court. John Wall was an All Star and the Dunk Contest winner, but it's Beal that's getting everybody to wipe the drool off their face. Beal has been just spectacular overall during this Bulls series. His ability to create and make shots at 20 years old has the national audience wondering what his ceiling could be. In an era of USA basketball where the players that draw the most interest from a scouting prospective are the one's that can run the fastest and jump the highest, Beal is one of the few players that came into the NBA after just one season in college with an almost ready made jump shot.
4. The Trevor's are going to get PAID this summer. Both Ariza and Booker have been instrumental in the Wizards success this series and that's going to result in them getting larger contracts in the offseason. Ariza is showing his full repertoire, hitting 3's, playing defense, and being aggressive offensively, while Book is doing what Book does: hustle, bang, and fill the gaps. There's got to be more teams looking at them now and how they could help their team moving forward.
I can't wait for tomorrow night, as I'll be pulling hard for ATL in the meantime, in hopes that the Wiz get home court advantage in the Semi's.