Game Time: 7:00 p.m. TV: Comcast
Can you believe we're at Game 70 already?
After a four-day layoff the Blazers ease back into the schedule tonight as the Washington Wizards come to town. Or rather the artists formerly known as the Washington Wizards. Almost nobody you'd actually recognize is going to play tonight. Gilbert Arenas? Suspended. Antawn Jamison? Traded. Caron Butler? Traded. Brendan Haywood? Traded. Former Maverick Josh Howard--the main guy they got back in these trades? Out for the season. The good news for Washington is that Andray Blatche has stepped in with multiple 20+ games in the absence of everyone else who used to score for this team. The bad news is that this isn't Summer League. If Blatche is your leading scorer this better be Summer League. If not, you're in trouble.
The Wizards are in trouble.
Washington has lost 9 straight, failing to score 100 in any of those games, topping 90 only twice. I'm going to list for you their main rotation players. See if you can figure out why.
Starters: Shaun Livingston, Mike Miller, Al Thornton, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee
Reserves: Randy Foye, Nick Young, Quinton Ross, James Singleton, Fabricio Oberto
Seriously, I'm pretty sure I can go on Chatroulette rigtht now and find five people who could crack that lineup. It's a seven-deuce starting hand followed by a five-ten-queen rainbow flop. I could find some positive things to say about the potential of Blatche and Thornton. I could call Miller a great complementary scorer. I could even share some memories of great Nick Young leaps. But all of these guys should be your 7th man or worse. It's hard to muster up anything credible to say other that the Wizards are pretty much trying to fold, getting through these last few games as best they can, hoping that a couple of these guys will catch fire enough to take confidence into next season.
We established that the new-look Wizards are having trouble scoring. They've also been slipping defensively as their losing streak progresses, allowing 105 to Atlanta, 109 to Orlando, and 112 to the Jazz in the last ten days. About the only thing Washington is doing well is offensive rebounding...made possible courtesy of plenty of misses. They are athletic and have the capability to draw foul shots. But that's about it.
Portland's biggest enemy tonight is going to be the layoff. After four days regaining focus could be difficult, especially since it'll be easy to take this team for granted. But Portland played out the string going into the break so one would hope they'd continue coming out of it. It's going to take a total lack of desire, execution, and energy to lose to this team. But there's always the caveat that any team, even one as broken as the Wizards, can sense a rare win and will chase it like hounds if you give them a sniff. Portland should come out and try to put this game away early. Even if they don't, though, they should be able to lock it away at any time. If the Blazers do find a way to lose we're going to give them the Hester Prynne treatment and stick a scarlet "D" on their jerseys..."D" standing for "Dumb[donkey]". The schedule gets much tougher after this, so pocket wins while you can against leaner times.
See an alternative perspective at BulletsForever.
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