Highest plus/minus: Nick Young (+4).
Lowest plus/minus: DeShawn Stevenson (-18).
Obviously, this was a disgraceful performance, and most people are going to harp on Gilbert's failed guarantee and proclaim that he should turn it down a notch. That's all true, but it's incredibly naive to pin this loss on a failed guarantee. The Wizards looked about as bad as they did Wednesday night, but against a better team. Naturally, the score will reflect that.
We've said it so many times this season, but the offense isn't designed to jack up the first 20-footer you see (I'm looking at you, Antawn Jamison). Let's just take Jamison for a second. With 2:21 to go in the first quarter, Jamison isolated on Brian Scalabrine at the top of the key, about 19 feet from the basket. He made two hard dribbles right and lofted one of those awkward flip shots off the glass and in. That was the only time throughout the entire first half that he even attempted to make a move to the basket. Jamison's strength is his ability to isolate against bigger forwards and use his quickness and finesse to take them off the dribble. When all he's doing is jacking up contested 20-footers, that takes away his biggest strength.
And it's not just Jamison. Butler, too, really disappointed me tonight, even though his final stat line was very good. 12 of his first 13 shots were jumpers, and the 13th doesn't count, because it was a putback dunk on a rebound. Every time there was even the slightest bit of resistance to a drive, Butler got tentative and decided not to attack the rim. At one point in the second quarter, he made a hard cut on the right baseline, but instead of zooming by the defender, Butler immediately pulled back into a double team once the defender (I forget who) made even the slightest move to cut off the baseline. Quite simply, Butler's too explosive to be shooting 20-footers all the time.
Then, of course, there's Arenas, who struggled today against the phenomenal defense of Rajon Rondo. I'm not going to totally defend Gilbert, because he was the one to open his mouth in the first place, but unlike Jamison and Butler, he seemed like he was trying to go to the rim. He just got no help from anyone; not Jamison, not Butler, not Eddie Jordan, nobody. The Celtics basically employed the LeBron defense on Gilbert during the game. Rajon Rondo guarded him extremely well, and Kendrick Perkins basically ignored Brendan Haywood to double Arenas off the ball. If Gilbert got by Rondo, Kevin Garnett was there to be the enforcer in the lane, as he was on that one forgettable play in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Haywood (who played a great game, by the way) stood around loafing in the paint, Butler, Jamison, and DeShawn Stevenson chilled on the wing, and Darius Songaila, when he was in the game, couldn't find a way to bring Perkins away from the basket.
I'm not as angry at Eddie as I was the other day, mostly because he tried using the bench and it let him down, but he also didn't help matters. Jeff Van Gundy made a fantastic point in the third quarter that the Wizards didn't use the right guy in pick and rolls with Arenas. Garnett has always been one of the best in the business at defending the pick and roll, yet the Wizards kept using his man to screen for Arenas. Meanwhile, Perkins, who's strength is his width, not his quickness, remain lounged in the paint, where he could be an enforcer. The logical solution would have been to pick using Perkins' man, but Eddie never did that. It's not a major, major weakness, but stuff like that hurts an already struggling offense.
All the stuff about Gilbert not backing his guarantee, not showing a killer instinct, jacking up awful jumpers, and the like is true, but we have to remember that nobody gave him any help. Jamison and Butler need to get their swag back, particularly Jamison, who has played completely unlike the professional he's supposed to be. Andray Blatche looked timid playing center, yet Eddie still had him guard Paul Pierce, an impossible cover. Darius Songaila once again made a couple nice passes offensively, but provided nothing on the defensive end (he let Brian Scalabrine drive by him once). Stevenson was a no-show, Nick Young looked lost, and Antonio Daniels was nowhere to be found. It's easy to blame Arenas, but he can't do this thing alone.
Let's also remember that it's just two games, and we're back home tonight, where this has been an excellent team. Even keel, folks, even keel.
I'm really just telling myself that last sentence.