By Brian Taylor
There are times in sports where one team has an edge over another that’s so consistent, so mind boggling, that people weigh they’re season’s success on beating that one dominant squad. As a Redskin fan, you could barely imagine my joy and ecstacy when we FINALLY put an end to the Dallas Cowboys’ streak over our team. For the past three years, the Wizards’ “Dallas” has come in the form of the Miami Heat, who once again, played the schoolyard bully to the NBA’s Southeastern Division.
With Butler dressed to play, but ultimately told to stay out against the team that drafted him, and Daniels playing while still being banged up at backup point, coming into the game I was expecting a blowout. Etan Thomas strained his back against the ATL, so he was riding pine all night. I was expecting Shaq to revert to his 2001 form and I was expecting Dwyane Wade to continue to dominate Arenas. The expected result was the same, but this was a game that showed the Wiz, while having grown up into one of the league’s better teams, are still a ways a way from being with the Spurs, Pistons, and Heat.
From the onset, it looked like our guys were tired of being pushed around, tired of being Miami’s little brother. With about four minutes left in the first quarter Washington went on an unbelievable 7-2 run that prompted Riles to call a T.O., and got the home crowd to its feet.
The joy was short lived, however, as the South Beach Boys dumped it inside to the Diesel, who did what he does best, bang down low and own the paint. Guys not shooting well? Dump it down low to Shaq for an easy deuce. What I’ve seen throughout the season, is that for the first half of the year, Shaq goes on cruise control, but come playoff time, he gets more and more vicious, more dominant, and more precise. It’s almost like he plays himself into shape during the year.
Wade was actually kept under control for this game, ending up with only 11 points on 3 for 7 shooting. The guy that actually impressed me was Derek Anderson, in one of those “Hey, I didn’t know they got him” type moments. In 38 minutes, he had 20 points, 15 of those from downtown. I swear he hit a few from F Street. The Arenas-Wade battle was won by Gil on the individual level, but overall D.C. looked like they lost their confidence after that first Heat run.
Antawn Jamison was not himself at all in this one, and it seemed more like bad luck than a slump of any kind. He had a few in-and-out threes that would’ve made a difference in the game, but overall his measly 8 point output was more being out of a rhythm than anything. With each miss, I heard the announcer from NBA Jam in my head say, “can’t BUY a bucket!” I’m hoping Jamison bounces back in the next game, but for now, the guys need to keep their heads up and realize there’s work to do.
The injuries don’t help, but the schedule definitely doesn’t either, with only Philly and Chi-Town being easily winnable games. I’m really hoping the guys don’t collapse and end up in the Eastern Conference Playoff Triangle of Death facing Miami, Detroit and the New Jersey Nets.
If they do, its four games to Disney World for the Wiz.
Mon 04/10/06, 8:15 am EST
- [Brian Taylor @ HoopsAddict.com Brian Taylor @ HoopsAddict.com]