December 29, 2012
Washington Wizards Status Check:
Road Record: 1-12
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 105-97 win over Orlando
PPG: 89.2 (30th)
Opponents PPG: 96.9 (13th)
Offensive Rating: 95.8 (30th)
Defensive Rating: 104.1 (12th)
Pace: 91.3 (20th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .446 (30th)
Turnover Percentage: .142 (20th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .733 (13th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .251 (22nd)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .180 (26th)
Opp. eFG%: .488 (14th)
Opp. TO%: .139 (13th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .209 (18th)
Leading scorer: Jordan Crawford (16.0)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Wizards Injury Report:
John Wall: out (knee)
Trevor Ariza: out (strained calf)
Trevor Booker: out (strained knee)
A.J. Price: out (broken hand)
The Bulls might have gotten just what the doctor ordered after they were dominated in their last two games: an extended break—thanks to a game postponed due to weather—and a date with the league’s worst team at home.
Not only is Chicago playing the 4-23 Wizards, but they are getting them on the second night of a back-to-back. Washington is 0-7 this year playing on no rest and 1-12 on the road.
The Wizards did win for the fourth time this season on Friday, but it came against an Orlando team that has lost to the Hornets and Raptors in the past week. Not to take anything away from Washington’s win, though…wait that was exactly what I was trying to do. Washington’s win was against a team whose best player is arguably JJ Redick. And I love JJ Redick (please trade Redick to the Bulls, Orlando management).
Jordan Crawford was the game’s leading scorer, dropping an efficient 27 points off the bench (11-16 FG). Nene added 23 points and eleven rebounds. It was the first time this season the Wizards had two scorers with 20 or more points. Washington’s bench combined to score 57 points, while Orlando’s reserves scored just 33 (with 23 of those coming from Redick). The Wizard’s second unit actually outscored their starters.
Washington lost their first 12 games of the year but is 4-11 since that terrible start, with wins over Portland, Miami and New Orleans. They have already lost to Detroit twice, Charlotte twice and Cleveland twice. To say the Wizards have been struggling is such an understatement; it’s like saying Lindsay Lohan has been to a party or two.
In Washington’s defense, they are also without their starting point guard. John Wall is still having issues with his knee and it’s unclear when he’ll be able to play again. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? And to defend the Wiz even more, they’ve lost four games in overtime, with a lot of other losses coming by single digits. That means just one or two possessions go a different way and the Wizards could get the win. Plus they only lost to the Rockets by six, while the Bulls got blown out of the gym by Houston. As a matter of fact, I think the Rockets are still scoring on the Bulls, four days later.
The bad news for Washington is that they’ve been struggling on the offensive end, and that’s where the Bulls excel for the most part, with the exception of Chicago’s last time out. When it’s bad news for one team, it’s usually good news for the other. And in this case it’s great news for Chicago. They go from playing the highest scoring team in the league, Houston, to playing the lowest scoring squad.
Washington is last in offensive rating (95.8), points per game (89.2) and effective field goal percentage (446). That is the trifecta, folks. It’s unconfirmed whether or not the Wizards understand the object of the game is to put the ball in the hoop.
“They must be good at something though,” you’re probably saying. And you’d be wrong. They are mediocre at some things, but good is a strong word to use for this Wizards team. Unless you count being “good” at losing. They have that one down.
Washington is middle of the road in defensive rating (12th) and ranges from average (13th in defensive rebound percentage) to poor (22nd in offensive rebound percentage) when it comes to the glass.
The Bulls will still struggle to score points as they always do, and it may be tougher as Luol Deng could miss the game. Lu sprained his ankle in the Houston game and is listed as day-to-day—as usual with Thibs. However, Rip Hamilton may return from the torn plantar fascia in his foot he’s been out because of. Rip has missed 12 games, nearly all of December with the injury. He was averaging 13.4 points on 45.5 percent shooting to go with 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He and Deng will both be game-time decisions.
From the other side: Kyle Weidie from TruthAboutIt.net joins us to give the Wizards’ perspective. Follow Weidie on Twitter at @Truth_About_It:
Question #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Magic over the past week?)
Coming off two embarrassing home-and-home losses to the Detroit Pistons, the Wizards snapped an 8-game losing streak at home against the Orlando Magic on Friday night. Now that a third of their season is gone, they have four wins to show. John Wall participated in a 5-0 drills at practice the other day for the first time all season, but the timetable for his return is still indefinite. The Wizards’ other main player, Nene, played in his 15th game on the season against the Magic and it was his best (23 points, 11 rebounds). He’s slowly starting to play more time as he continues to deal with plantar fasciitis.
Otherwise, Wizards coach Randy Wittman is playing point guard roulette. He started the season with AJ Price and Jannero Pargo as a backup. Later on, Pargo would get cut for Shaun Livingston, Price would break his hand, Livingston would get cut for a Wizards draft pick who didn’t make the team in training camp (Shelvin Mack), and Mack would start for temporary point guard Jordan Crawford (who was late for a shoot-around and moved out the starting lineup two games ago). The kicker: another recent D-League call-up, Garrett Temple, started the second half at point for Mack in last night’s win against the Magic.
Question #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
No one is really sleeping on any Wizard, but if I had to nominate one, it would be Martell Webster. Without back problems entering this season, he has boosted his numbers to career rates — although, not something to write home about, so we save it for the blogs. Webster can still be as inconsistent as any Wizard, but not because of lack of effort, which has been visibly evident. This season he’s racking up more assists that he ever has, and after Nene, Webster has the highest eFG% on the team (.515).
Question #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
While Nene has had his way against the likes of Tyler Zeller and Gustavo Ayon over the past two games, I’ll be especially interested in how he and frontcourt partner Emeka Okafor fare against Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah tonight. The Wizards can’t win unless they run a lot of offense through Nene out the post. So if Chicago can contain Nene’s points in the paint while clogging the passing lanes that the unselfish Brazilian seems to see better than anyone else, it will be business-as-usual for Washington, which will mean loss No. 24 in 28 games.
October 26, 2009
The consensus prediction of the TrueHoop Network bloggers…and the best hopes of By The Horns.
Crowd Says: 43-39
By The Horns Says: 46-36
Yes We Can!
The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us!
During the offseason, the Bulls lost free agent Ben Gordon, whom many people considered the team’s best or second-best player (after Derrick Rose). Memo to Chicago fans: Don’t sweat it. Seriously. Gordon will be replaced by John Salmons, who not only gave the Bulls almost as many points per game (18.3 versus 20.7) but was slightly more efficient in how he scored them (Salmons had a True Shooting Percentage of .596 and an Offensive Rating of 117 compared to Gordon’s .573 and 112). Even better, Salmons has the size (6-foot-7) and ability to defend opposing shooting guards … something Gordon couldn’t do unless he was exposed to Cosmic Rays or bitten by a radioactive spider.
And that’s not the only good news. Derrick Rose spent the summer working on his jump shot (500 or more jumpers a day!) and seems poised to blossom into an All-Star. Kirk Hinrich (who could start for several teams) and Jannero Pargo (a fearless and streaky shooting assassin) might be the best backup backcourt combo in the league. Luol Deng should be healthy (I hope) and ready to party like it’s 2006-07 (when he had a career-high Player Efficiency Rating of 18.7). It’s a contract year for Tyrus Thomas, which means he’s likely to blow up. Joakim Noah would dive face-first into a swarm of man-eating sharks to win a basketball game, so expect him to be a rebounding, shot-blocking beast. Like Hinrich, Brad Miller is a starting-caliber player who proved last season he can be very effective in a reserve role. Rookies James Johnson and Taj Gibson have the raw talent necessary to provide support in short bursts off the bench. Lindsey Hunter is a first-rate (and mostly non-playing) locker room leader, and Aaron Gray hands out a mean cup of Gatorade.
To sum up, the Bulls have height and depth across the board. They have guys who can get to the rim (Rose and Salmons), guys who can shoot the ball (Deng, Hinrich, Pargo and Salmons), guys who can clean the glass (Miller, Noah and Thomas), and guys who can swat some shots (Gibson, Noah and Thomas). They still don’t have a low post scoring threat, which is a problem (maybe even a big problem), but they don’t have a gaping hole at any position. The Bulls won’t win the East (thanks to the Cavaliers, Celtics and Magic) or even the Central Division (because of the Cavs), but they’re going to be much better than the naysayers are predicting.
No You Won’t
A rousing dissent from a rival blogger.
From Mike Kurylo of Knickerblogger.net:
Quiz time, which Bull am I describing: “Athletic … good wingspan … more of a tweener … inconsistent scoring … has stretches where he disappears completely … questionable free throw shooter.”
A. Joakim Noah
B. Tyrus Thomas
C. James Johnson
D. Taj Gibson
E. All of the above
The answer is E, and therein lies the problems with the Chicago Bulls: they have too many forwards that are of a similar mold. Chicago needed to add someone to complement their young frontcourt of Noah and Thomas, but didn’t.
There are two ways to win in the NBA. The first is to be unbelievable good at a few major aspects of the game. The other way is to be well-rounded with enough weapons to counter any possibility. The Bulls are neither of these and hence were a middle of the pack team offensively and defensively last year. Until Chicago makes a commitment to address their weaknesses or bolster their strengths they’ll stay a tweener team.
A 140-character insight into the soul of the team.
“In the play of the series, Joakim Noah steals the ball, beats Pierce down the court and dunks ‘and 1′ to put the Bulls up 126-123 35.5 to go.” — The official Chicago Bulls Twitter, commemorating what might be the greatest post-Jordan playoff moment from Game 6 of the Bulls’ first-round series against the defending champion Boston Celtics.
On The Record
Single best quote concerning the team during the last 12 months.
On January 30th, 2009, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said: “This [season] has been a disaster. It’s embarrassing.” At that time, the Bulls were 19-27. After that tongue-lashing, the team acquired John Salmons and Brad Miller, finished 41-41, made the playoffs and pushed the defending champions to seven games in the first round.
The 2008-09 Almanac
Some key stats from last season.
Team Factor Strength(s): Offensive Rebounding (6th)
Team Factor Weakness(es): Defensive Rebounding (28th)
So offensively and defensively, the Bulls were strictly — maybe even painfully — mediocre. That’s bad. Furthermore, they were one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the Association. That’s really bad. On the bright side, they cleaned up on the offensive glass — in fact, Noah ranked 2nd in the NBA in Offensive Rebounds Per 48 Minutes — so they have that going for them. Starting Salmons at SG and a healthy Deng at SF should help the team on offense and defense. And if Noah and Thomas can crash the defensive boards with a manic passion, the Bulls could become a real force in the East. Maybe not a championship-level force … but at least the kind of squad that other teams see on the schedule and say, “Oh, crap. The Bulls.”
Down a single point with 9.2 seconds to play in a must-win game. What’s the play?
For the last few seasons, the Bulls’ money play (and I use the word “play” loosely) has been Ben Gordon chucking it up from long range either off a screen or in isolation. And yeah, Gordon certainly gave us some lasting memories that way … but words can’t express how happy I am that we’ll never see that play again.
This season, I see Vinny Del Negro calling a high pick and roll with Derrick Rose and Brad Miller, where the first option is Rose driving to the hoop for a bucket or the foul; the second option is Rose pulling up for a short chip shot or floater; and the third option is a kick-out to Miller for a midrange jumper.
The People’s Choice
The fan favorite the crowd will be chanting for to see some action.
Aaron Gray has all the characteristics necessary to become a Brian Scalabrine-like folk hero in Chicago: he’s big, white, a little goofy-looking, and tries really, really hard. If the Bulls find themselves in the midst of a blowout, look for the United Center crowd to try and will Gray into the game. You know, once he recovers from that stress fracture in his left fibula.
If You’re Watching The Bottom Line, You’re Watching This
The single biggest spreadsheet issue hanging over the team.
The Bulls enter the 2009-10 season with approximately $25 million worth of expiring contracts, the largest of which is Brad Miller’s $12.2 million cap killer. Those expiring deals will almost certainly lead to one of two things: a blockbuster before-the-deadline trade or a major signing in the fabled Summer of 2010. That’s when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Dirk Nowitzki and Joe Johnson (among others) become free agents. It’s no secret that the Bulls would love to add a premier frontcourt scorer … and there may never be a better chance for them to do it.
August 21, 2009
For many years, the Phoenix Suns under Mike D’Antoni were (almost) everyone’s “second favorite team,” and why not? They were fun, exciting, joyful, and kinetic. But ever since Steve Kerr took a wrecking ball to the roster and D’Antoni moved east, sentimental favorites have been slow to surface.
As NBA rosters are beginning to flesh out, the TrueHoop Network bloggers were asked to write about their second favorite team — the squad they’d adopt if their club was Sonicsized, the team they might go upstairs with if they had a few too many at the hotel lounge. Is it a specific player that draws them in? A scheme? An organizational philosophy? Alternate jerseys? A general vibe? Here was my answer:
I’m a fan whore, so in addition to the Bulls I also follow the Celtics (because I’m a Larry Bird fan from way back) and the Pacers (because I grew up in Indiana). That said, if the earth opened up and swallowed those three teams, I’d start following the Clippers. No, really!
I mean, think about it. As a fan, the worst possible experience is watching my team fail when I expected them to succeed. Well, the Clippers are never expected to succeed. And that’s actually a good thing, because there’s no pressure whatsoever. The Clippers would never crush my optimism because I wouldn’t have any. Then the rare victory would be that much sweeter. It would be like walking down a dark alley and, instead of getting brutally mugged, finding a crisp new one hundred dollar bill.
Look, watching the Bulls start out slowly (thanks to that damn circus road trip) and then fight to make the playoffs every season really stresses me out. Following the Clippers would be great for my blood pressure, plus I’d get to make Clippers jokes all the time. That would provide an endless source of material. Just ask Kevin Arnovitz and Bill Simmons.