This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent and Eddie Jordan’s former team, the Washington Wizards who are 2-0 against the Sixers this season.
Looking through our red-white & blue sunglasses, this is a game that 76ers absolutely should win tonight. Of course we said that the last two times the Sixers have faced the Wizards and things did not work out so well for Philadunkia’s home team. The Wizards (10-21) have struggled mightily on-the-court this season much like the 76ers and now with the Federal Government’s ongoing investigation into Agent Zero’s gun play, the Wiz are facing off-the-court distractions as well. That’s a combination few NBA teams are able to survive. Throw in the Antawn Jamison trade rumors and it would seem to us that Washington is primed to truly put a stamp on the 2009-10 season and mail it in. The Sixers could start Washington’s final downhill slide tonight with a W down at the Wachovia Center.
But our basketball brains say the Wiz will put aside all of the issues listed above and come out and play hard. Thus this will be a tough game for the Sixers to win. The Wizards present serious match up problems for Eddie Jordan’s crew as their 2-0 record against us this season indicates. Washington is athletic and fast, potentially they can score from outside, Jamison is a beast on the blocks and Agent Zero can be lethal. If you remember back in December Gilbert hit the Sixers for 31 points overall, 12 in the 4th Q , and single handily won the game for Washington. Finally, most of the Wizards players are familiar with Eddie Jordan’s bastardized version of the Princeton offense and that should give them a defensive advantage vs. the Sixers half-court offense. Not that they need it.
In short, we see tonight’s game as a toss up and we’ll go with our hearts and say the Sixers win this one.
For a little more insight into the Wizards team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Kyle Weidie from truthaboutit.net to answer two questions on the Wizards from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Washington squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : The Wiz have beaten the 76ers twice this season, but in general they have struggled as badly as the Sixers have done. Let us in on some of the issues in Washington.
Kyle Weidie @ truthaboutit.net : It’s hard to pin-point exactly what’s been wrong with this year’s Wizards because everything has been wrong. From horrible let-downs in single quarters, to lack of effort on defense, to selfish, inconsistent offense, to missing free-throws, to just not being able to make key plays when the game is on the line, all the reasons why Wizards lose add up to them just not being a good team.
But if you’re looking for me to point fingers, I won’t go too far past the Big Three of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. For one, a team will never win when its three captains, its three best players, are also three of the worst defenders on the roster. Combine that with the fact of all three have completely forgotten how to be cohesive on the offensive end and there’s simply no longer a reason to keep trying to make this marriage work.
The bench play hasn’t been much to brag about, but it’s ultimately the responsibility of the Big Three as players and as leaders. With the Wizards having the most disappointing season in the NBA now being overshadowed by gun-play, they have failed as both, epically.
Philadunkia : As Philly’s head coach, Eddie Jordan seems to have little regard for playing defensive minded lineups at the right times or putting the correct one-on-one defensive match-ups on the floor. It’s also become obvious that in general Jordan worries significantly more about offense then defense. Did Eddie Jordan appear to care at all about defense during his time in Washington because we are trying to determine if his lack of concern for the defensive end of the floor is something new or has it always been part of his coaching style?
Kyle Weidie @ truthaboutit.net : I haven’t paid much attention to the Sixers this season. When you become so inundated covering one team, you tend to lose the intricacies of what’s going on around the league. But I certainly understand mounting frustrations in Philly over being ranked 28th in defensive efficiency, down from 14th last year.
When he was in D.C., I never was under the impression that Jordan neglected the defense. When the Sixers were in town on December 22, I briefly talked to him about defense before the game. He started off joking, “I don’t know anything about defense, from what I understand.” But went on to say that he’s a true believer that you need the personnel to play good defense, something he never seemed to have in Washington, and that you need your leaders to be committed on that end of the floor. Jordan then talked about how he spent an “extraordinary” about of time on defense in training camp 2007-08. The Wizards started out 0-5. He said he then put in more time on offense and they won their next six.
So, sometimes Jordan goes with what works/what he’s best at (and I imagine he was having a helluva time installing the difficult pro-style Princeton offense to his young players before Iverson came around), and sometimes he needs his players to be more committed, but I truly think he cares about defense. Perhaps the defensive woes of the teams he coaches can not necessarily be attributed to the scheming of Jordan and Randy Ayers, but rather that they just don’t have the coaching mentality to instill a defensive mind-set in their players.
Two Points of Analysisfrom Kyle Weidie @ truthaboutit.net :
1) Fans in D.C. are clamoring to see JaVale McGee on the court more. His mom is even trying to start a “Free JaVale McGee” campaign on Twitter, which JaVale himself re-tweeted. Whether this means to free him from the bench, or from the team in general, who knows. But with Flip Saunders tightening his lineup and choosing to go with dependable veterans off the bench, such as Fabricio Oberto, who don’t get completely lost on defense like JaVale, don’t count on him seeing the court much soon. And with the Wizards valuing McGee’s potential highly, don’t count on seeing him traded soon either.
2) The last time the Wizards and Sixers played, Flip Saunders subbed all of his starters out early in the third quarter because of their poor play. Here’s my account of asking him about it after the game. You just might see more drastic moves from a desperate coach tonight.