It seems Flip Saunders is hot about how Andray Blatche supposedly talked trash to Kevin Garnett and woke him up, thereby waking up the Celtics and allowing them to push through for the win. Which is fine, I guess. Blatche clearly let KG get under his skin, and since Blatche is the future of the team, he should be judged more harshly than anyone else. It's always said that it's a problem when your coach isn't coaching you, not when he's constantly on you.
However, Andray Blatche didn't lose us last night's game. He's had better shooting nights, but on the whole, he played very well. In fact, our frontcourt in general completely outplayed the Celtics. JaVale McGee had zero rebounds, sure, but he also blocked five shots, altered several more and forced Kevin Garnett into two or three traveling violations. Al Thornton wasn't shooting good shots, but he was making them and doing a great job on the glass. Blatche locked down Garnett, hit 50 percent of his shots and had nine defensive rebounds. If those three are our future, they showed tremendous progress tonight.
It's our backcourt that killed us. Specifically, Randy Foye and Mike Miller, the two guys who were supposed to be complimentary pieces worthy of trading our first top-five draft pick in years.
Foye shot 3-14, but that obscured just how bad he was last night. Down the stretch, when the Wizards needed to get organized and run clean sets, Foye couldn't do it and we couldn't run our offense. The problem with Foye is the same problem he's had throughout his NBA career: he likes to survey and dribble time off the shot clock like he's Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade. That's how he played at Villanova, and that's how he played in Minnesota when there was literally nobody else to score. Minnesota's default play was to give Foye the ball and let him survey. It's how he got the nickname "Fourth Quarter Foye." It's how smart writers like Kelly Dwyer can say he's "great down the stretch," even though his teams have always failed. Under Flip Saunders, though, your point guard can't survey. He has to make quick, decisive moves to set others up, even down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
As much as Foye is trying to break the surveying habit, he can't. There was one play late in the game where the Wizards had six seconds on the shot clock. Foye took the ball out of bounds, aimlessly dribbled for three seconds while standing 35 feet from the hoop, and eventually got nowhere. He was eventually forced to fling the ball up from 22 feet away because he lost his balance and couldn't jump. Worse, because he's always looking for his shot, nobody else is ready for when he passes. It's no accident that our entry passes down the stretch were abysmal last night. It's in part Foye's fault that Thornton and Blatche caught the ball so far away from the hoop when they did.
As for Miller, I could (and might) put together some screenshots and clips of all the things he did wrong tonight. There were many, on both ends of the court. But the truth is, Miller was pulling the same stuff he's been pulling ever since the trades. Passing out to confused teammates when he receives even the slightest of pressure. Not shooting open threes. Throwing up loopy floaters (if he's not passing) instead of taking it strong to the basket. Coming off a pick and roll and just stopping instead of trying to make a play (if there's anyone with Synergy, I'd love to see how Mike rates on pick and rolls). The only difference tonight is that he also played pitiful defense on Ray Allen. Allen had 25 points on 15 shots, and most of those came with Miller guarding him. The worst effort was on the last play of the game, when Miller was literally out of the picture as Allen drained the go-ahead wide-open three, but there were other plays too. I would have liked to see Flip go to Quinton Ross more, because at least Ross plays solid D. Miller doesn't make any plays offensively anyway, so it's not like Ross hurts you much on that end.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are the guys we traded the fifth pick for last summer. Those guys cost us the game. Not Andray Blatche flipping out at Kevin Garnett.
To close with some good news, I'll throw this out there. The players who played poorly last night are guys stuck in our past. The players who played well last night are guys that compose our future, at least among those left on the roster. Since the future of this team is way more important than the present or past, that's a very encouraging sign, even if we lost the game.
Four Factors (Bold=very good | Italics=very bad)
Snap Reaction: Just an unbelievably ugly game on all counts.
Lineup Details, via Popcorn Machine
Highest individual plus/minus: Randy Foye (+7 in 35:24)
Lowest individual plus/minus: Earl Boykins (-10 in 12:24)
Best five-man unit: Randy Foye/Mike Miller/Al Thornton/James Singleton/Andray Blatche (+8 in the first quarter)
- Worst five-man unit: Randy Foye/Mike Miller/Al Thornton/Andray Blatche/JaVale McGee (-13 to end the game)
Snap Reaction: Foye ended up with the highest plus/minus on the team, which confuses me. I guess that tells you a lot about how bad Earl Boykins is.