Jan 31, 2012

State of the League: Eastern Edition

We're a third of the way through this shortened NBA season, and watching President Obama do his thing last week put me in the mood for a State of the League. For the sake of space (I don't get paid by the word, after all. Truth be told, my editor and I are in intense negotiations over my salary, which is currently $7.25/hr below minimum wage. Feel free to weigh in on that injustice in the comment section) we're not going in depth with each squad, just taking a pulse and checking vitals. 

- Cap City

Jan 27, 2012

I Forgot You Was Doing an Interview

Here at ZardsALards! we're on the record: we hate Kevin Garnett. And we stand by that statement. But that doesn't stop us from recognizing when the man does something great.

Our favorite part: "Since I've been here in Boston, Doc has never told me nothing that wasn't true." 

Kevin and Doc have been together over four years. Do you have anyone in your life like that? If so, congratulations.

Enjoy your Friday. You look good tonight dawg.

Jan 26, 2012

Second Season

Whatever you think of Flip Saunder's firing, give Ernie Grunfeld this: he certainly timed it right.

Wednesday night the Wizards enjoyed a visit from the Charlotte Bobcats. New head coach Randy Wittman probably enjoyed it the most. The Bobcats were 3-15 when they arrived in the District, having lost to the Knicks (the 6-10 Knicks) by 33 points the night before. They were also without their leading scorer, second leading scorer, and third leading scorer. That's not to say Gerald Henderson, D.J. Augustine, and Corey Maggette would have been the difference (dead cat bounce and all), but imagine us playing without John Wall, Nick Young, and Jordan Crawford. There but for the grace of God.

With a win pretty much in the bag, the discerning fan was less interested in the final (92-75) than the changes Wittman would make. While the easiest game of the year is an admittedly small and biased sample, there were still surprises, disappointments, and encouraging signs.

Jan 24, 2012

Time to Go

Flip is out! That's right, the Washington Wizards have fired head coach Flip Saunders. Say it with us: about damn time.

Jan 23, 2012

The Essence of Purity

Editor's Note: Watching the Zards Friday night, Cap City felt a fire in his belly, and the only cure was sweet, sweet poetry. What follows is a meditation on youth and folly.

Into the eyes of the defender he gazes
A lion surveying his prey
Whether he will score isn't a question
The only one being which way

Jan 22, 2012

Double Down

The NBA's Chinese New Year Celebration (a totally real and important thing, get your shooting shirts) got underway Monday afternoon with a Wizards-Celtics game featuring a Frenchman, a Serbian, a Czechoslovakian, and a Guadaloupean. Those hoping the Zards' Chinatown roots and Steve Buckhantz's joyful Mandarin expectorations pointed to victory were sadly disappointed, as the Wiz fell 100-94 to a depleted Boston squad. And though the outcome bore a striking similarity to Friday night's loss to the Nuggets, this one was a step back.

Here at ZA, we felt the outcome Friday night was due to poor luck as much as anything else (or good luck, for our friends in Denver). The Wiz certainly made mistakes, like John Wall pulling up for a transition triple with a minute to go (John is shooting a nice round 0% from downtown this season, so perhaps he felt he was due). But in the aftermath, we were ready to argue that if the ball bounced the other way a few times, the Wiz win. When Al Harrington hits a prayer from 30 feet as the shot clock expires, maybe it's just not your night.

Somehow this did not work

Sunday, on the other hand, was a failure. Yes, Paul Pierce was red hot in the 4th quarter, piling up 14 of his 34 points and torching a variety of defenders in the process. But that's all the C's had going. With Rondo sitting out, Avery Bradley played 41 minutes! Friday night, the Phoenix Suns held this group to 71 points. Phoenix! Stop Pierce and you win, simple as that. Unfortunately, the Wizard's coaching staff examined this problem and proposed an insane solution. They elected to double. For your reading pleasure, here is a breakdown of how that broke down:

Jan 19, 2012

Christmas in Chinatown

The Wizards beat the Thunder last night. The Washington Wizards, the team with the worst record in basketball, beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team with the best record in basketball. Kevin Durant played. Russell Westbrook played. James Harden played. The Wizards won. Just enjoy that for a moment.

Jan 18, 2012

4 Days 3 Games 0 Wins

Editor's Note: Probably because he's still looking to record his first official ZA comment, guest contributor Cap City is back at it. Get caught up on the Wiz now, before they trounce the Thunder and become the toast of the league!

Another exciting weekend of Wizards basketball. I was able to catch the first two games on the talking picture box and was in the stands for Monday's matinee against the Rockets (eight bucks on Stubhub, even cheaper on the street), so I have a pretty clear picture of where the team stands going in to tonight's tilt against the Thunder. In case you didn't spend your holiday weekend obsessively observing the worst team in the league, allow me to bring you up to speed.

The two matchups with Philly were firsthalfagainsttheMonstars one-sided, to the point that I now believe in Philly as a legitimate playoff team. This might seem obvious, since they're 10-3 and have already put some distance between themselves and the rest of the crummy Atlantic Division, but I wasn't convinced.   After all, Philly's opponents in their 10 wins have a combined record of 37-91 (including Indiana, at 9-3, their only true test). Taking a whupping for 96 minutes chased my doubts away; they're a top-4 seed. 

Those two games were largely forgettable, except for the new promotion Papa Johns unveiled, offering half-off pizza if the Wizards score 100 points and win. Pretty low-risk strategy there. Until...

Jan 14, 2012

Live from Philly

The Wiz got spanked last night, and along with Michael Lee and the rest of the national press, ZA was in the building (for those of you scoring at home, that's another franchise record: first road game covered!), taking it in just a few rows from the Sixers bench (shout out to the boys of Pi Kappa Phi for the tickets and their entertainingly earnest efforts to get the Sixers dancers to swing by the house after the game).

The Dream Team. In other news, Zards ALards! is filing for moral bankruptcy. 

Although the Zards roared out to an early lead (2-0), it was pretty darn clear pretty darn quick that it wasn't going to be our night. The Sixers are for real. They play hard, they play smart, and they've got about eight players better than anyone on our roster. So, well before Philadelphia blew the doors off in the third, ZA had turned its attention away from the action on the court and begun comparing the "fan experience" at the Wells Fargo Center to what goes down in Chinatown.

Peep the notes:

Jan 12, 2012

Plumbing the Depths

Editor's Note: The Wiz are setting franchise records left and right, so we thought we'd get in on the fun. Please welcome ZardsALards! first EVER guest author, Cap City. Cap drops by to share his thoughts on blips, blimps, and pace factors. Enjoy.

Besides the Kiss Cam (and the inevitable awkward focus on two people who don't know each other and exchange an extremely reluctant peck on the cheek), my favorite aspect of Wizards games has become the Michael & Son blimp that hovers above the court, impairing views (if you bought upper deck tickets through Groupon) and inviting the question, who exactly are Michael and Son?

The Michael and Son Blimp looks something like this, only much smaller, in the shape of a truck, and without Nazi insignia. It looks nothing like this.
M & S turns out to be an Alexandria-based home repair company expected to do $28 million worth of work in the DC area this year. They also advertise at Caps games (on the Zamboni). Interestingly, while people will be paying Basim Mansour (owner and "Son") $28 million to make a positive visual and foundational change to their property, Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld will be paying Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche a combined $27.58 million for the 2011-2012 season of the National Basketball Association. I won't focus on Rashard, as he is undoubtedly worth every penny of his salary and continues to lead by example both on and off the court, and I feel bad going after Andray, as he has already gotten his share of criticism this year. 

Instead, I will examine the overall offensive ineptitude the Wizards have shown this year, a trend which will hopefully be a short blip but which so far looks alarmingly like a much larger and more offensively inept blip. Ten games may not be enough to tell the true character and talent of a team, but it certainly has been enough to cause snickers around the league, and probably eliminate any reasonable hope for the playoffs in a shortened season. By any measure, the Wiz are horrendous at making a basketball go through a circular piece of metal, but closer examination reveals some interesting numbers. 

Death By Squeegee

Probs an offensive rebound

The Zards rolled into Chicago on Wednesday night less than 24 hours removed from their first victory of the season. Playing their second game in two nights against one of the league's top squads, the odds of starting a winning streak did not look good.

But then the basketball gods smiled and Derrick Rose, he of the Most Valuable Player award, was declared a late scratch with a sprained toe. Plus, it turned out Chicago was playing its third game in three nights, a brutal scheduling quirk unique to lockout-shortened seasons sure to put them at a disadvantage (someday ZA will discuss the lockout, right now the wounds are too fresh). So there were reasons to be cautiously optimistic that Washington could steal a victory it realistically had no right to claim.

Jan 11, 2012

Off the Schneid!

Hallelujah! Amen! The Wiz Kidz finally won! And if you think that Zards ALards! wasn't in attendance, half court, 15 rows up, FOR 26 DOLLARS (seriously people, stubhub.com), well you've got another thing coming.

The Wiz came in to Tuesday night's contest fresh off a 20-point beating at the hands of the Timberwolves, an exciting young team that will probably lose more games than it wins. During the fourth quarter of that drubbing, the boo birds had made themselves heard, and there were reports of vicious heckling from presumably die-hard fans. The loss made it eight straight to start the season, which, combined with Rashard Lewis' refusal to play, Andray Blatche's Twitter shenanigans, and John Wall having a big frowny face (actual Flip Saunders quote, "I told him, if... he doesn't have a smile on his face, I'm going to take him out.") compelled the Washington Post to devote space on the front page to chronicle the team's ineptitude. Not the front page of the sports section. The front page of the entire newspaper. Just to the right of "Iranian court sentences alleged U.S. spy to death."

Nonetheless, the ZA staff was present, and our faith was rewarded with an energetic but evenly fought first quarter, a delightfully dominant second and third, and a supremely satisfying final of Washington 93, Toronto 78. In the afterglow, let's ask two obvious questions (and do so with smiles on our faces):