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Wiz Roundup: A hungover team?

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Gilbert Arenas' huge birthday bash may have been on Friday night, but the Wizards came out sluggish two days later in yesterday's loss to the Raptors.  With an entire day to recover, it's ludicrious to blame the Wizards loss on being hungover.  Still, Arenas says the 1 PM start time threw off the Wizards' rhythm.

"I don't think we've ever played well on 1 o'clock games.  In the NBA that's a weird time, especially for your body because that's usually your practice time. A 1 o'clock practice, you know how that goes."

Umm...whatever.  Toronto started the game at the same time, so by this logic, they should also be out of rhythm.  I don't know exactly the tone of Arenas' comments, but I don't buy them, even if I love Agent Zero.

Ivan Carter discussed how the Raptors' length up front gave the Wizards problems.  

With two 7-foot centers -- Rasho Nesterovic and Andrea Bargnani -- a 6-10 power forward in Bosh and a 6-9 small forward in Jorge Garbajosa, the Raptors have one of the NBA's tallest front lines, and that size gave the smaller Wizards plenty of problems.

Consdering all of this, how can Eddie Jordan justify playing Andray Blatche only 3 minutes?  Jordan tried to match up by playing the small lineup extensively, but it wasn't a good strategy.  Blatche is probably the only guy who has any chance at matching up with guys like Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh.  At the very least, he has to be better at matching up than Antawn Jamison and Calvin Booth, so why is he only playing 3 minutes?  It makes no sense to me.  

Speaking of Jordan, SI's Chris Mannix credits the Wizards' December improvement to a slight change in offensive philosophy.  

Looking for another reason (besides Gilbert Arenas' stellar play) to explain Washington's torrid December? How about Wizards coach Eddie Jordan?

After opening the season 4-9, Jordan noticed some resistance to Washington's Princeton offense. So Jordan reinstalled five basic sets that had been a part of the Wizards' game plan in previous seasons but had been shelved before the start of the 2006-07 campaign. After a few games, Jordan says players approached him about going back to the original motion-based offense.

"I think having those plays put in where one or two guys controls the ball and the other three stand around gave them a greater appreciation for our offense," says Jordan. "We share the ball and try to get everyone involved."

As mentioned yesterday, Arenas is getting more love for MVP, but Marty Burns still isn't convinced.

Regarding your article about Steve Nash as the front-runner for the MVP, I have no argument about Nash's season. But your rundown of the rest of the field has one glaring omission: Gilbert Arenas. His numbers are up across the board from last year, and he's the centerpiece of a center-less team currently in first place. When we look at the MVP race, even this early in the season, the first thing a lot of folks in the media seem to do is run down a laundry list of players who "should" be in contention. How are LeBron, Wade, Carmelo, Duncan, Kobe and Yao doing? Not so great? Then Nash must be the guy. It appears that you had this exact thought process, all the while ignoring the remarkable feats of Agent Zero.
-- Josh Patten, Arlington, Va.

Sorry, Josh (and all the other Arenas fans who flooded my mailbox Thursday), but I had to cut off the list at some point. There's no doubt Arenas is a great scorer, and he had a spectacular December. But the Wizards have been so mediocre the past two years that it's comical to say Arenas deserves to be a serious MVP candidate. It's the same reason I wouldn't vote for Carmelo Anthony right now (well, that and the fact that he got himself kicked out for 15 games). They're great scorers but they need to win something -- or do a whole lot more than just fill the basket -- if they're going to be considered among the real MVP candidates. If Arenas can make the Wizards consistent winners -- as Nash has done in Phoenix -- he'll get plenty of consideration for MVP.

I think this is a dumb argument, to be honest.  You win an MVP for your performance in that year, so why does Arenas has to prove that he can make the Wizards a consistent winner before he gets any consideration for this year's MVP?  If I remember correctly, Nash won the MVP in 2004/05 even though it was his first year in Phoenix.  If the Wizards get first place in the Southeast and a top 3 seed in the East, Arenas should definitely be one of the top candidates for the MVP.  

Finally, I'm doing weekly updates for About.com, along with Dave and Atma Brother #1 from fellow SBNation sites Blazers Edge and Golden State of Mind, as well as Ryan fromHoops Addict, Tom from Indy Cornrows, and Ron from Hornets 24/7.  I'm writing updates for the Southeast Division teams, and you can my updates for this week here.  

BONUS LINKS: According to the Wizards.com blog, Etan Thomas should be in uniform for Wednesday's key tilt with the Bulls. He practiced today and should be ready to go. Also, in a hardly unsurprising announcement, Gilbert Arenas won his third Player of the Week of the season for last week's performance.