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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Will The Slide EVER End?

After a dreadful season in '08-'09, the Wizards came into this one with much, much higher expectations. They traded players, traded their #5 draft pick, and finally have a healthy core group of star players. But they are 2-7 and have lost six straight games after an extremely promising start, blowing the Dallas Mavericks away in the season opener. And guess what? It won't get easier one bit. They play LeBron tomorrow. Then the young, exciting and energetic squad from Oklahoma City on Friday. And no, they don't get a break the next day. They have to go to San Antonio to play all-star forward Tim Duncan, former Wiz, Roger "I-Don't-Miss-Three's" Mason and the rest of the Spurs who love to feed on the Wizards whenever the two teams meet head-to-head.
But Arenas is back.  And so is Caron Butler. And Antawn Jamison is, too, so they should be fine...right?Think again. First off, Jamison hasn't played in a game all year due to his shoulder dislocation, but should be back against the Cavs tomorrow night in D.C. Though he has been solid throughout his entire career, it is difficult to assume that he will be his usual self after suffering the injury only a few weeks ago and playing in his first game action tomorrow against the team from Cleveland, who have high expectations to win the NBA title this year. But at least he'll be back.
And Arenas, well, he IS on the court every night...but is he really "back"? Having watched games for years now, I am positive that he is not really back. He can't be. Arenas always hit the game-winners in past years. Now, he slips up. He was always quick as lightning, crossing over to either nail a three, hit a midrange jumper or drive to the hoop for a beautifully executed layup between opponents. Now, he seems to move slower, settling for jumpers that always leaves the crowd moaning once it clanks off the rim. The free throw shooting is awful now. It used to be that when he went to the free throw line, it was an automatic two points. And he went there a lot. Now, I honestly can say that I don't remember him hitting two free throws in a row more than twice all season. And he doesn't get there as much, either. Is it the new offensive system set up by Flip Saunders? Is it the weight of the team that he feels he needs to carry on his shoulders? Or is it hardly passing the ball, yet not making much happen? Whatever it is, it needs to be fixed and he needs to get back to being an all-star like he used to be.
Now to Butler. Like Arenas, he hasn't been himself all season. And even he admits its because of the new offensive system that gives Arenas the ball most of the time and not him. He isn't himself, either. He isn't hitting shots. He isn't hitting free throws. He isn't getting the assists or steals like he used to. Maybe the return of his co-captain will help ease some pressure, but then again maybe it won't. They really need to sit down and focus on the job at hand and doing what they need to do to WIN. Yes, win. I know Washington isn't used to winning but it really needs to happen. Fast. Why can't it happen? We have those three former all-stars "back," shooting/passing/rebounding expert Mike Miller on the floor, team MVP of the young season Andray Blatche, sharp-shooter Randy Foye and now little Earl Boykins joining the team, a sparkplug and talented ballplayer. So what do they need to do to become a great team? What's stopping them becoming this? Well, as much as it kills me to say it, maybe they should just look at the team across the court tomorrow night to get a glimpse of what they really need.

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