Better late than never we reached out to Mike at Bullets Forever for our traditional Friday Blogging With the Enemy.
Here it is:
HQ: The Wizards have a new coach, a healthy Gilbert Arenas and some talented young pieces yet they seem (despite having beaten Toronto already this week) to be off to a slow start. Why are the Wizards struggling and what needs to happen to get them back into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference Standings?
Lots of reasons for the slow start, but chief among them is that Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler are not playing well. Arenas is shaking off rust, a lack of confidence and a completely new offensive role in Flip Saunders' point-guard driven system (as opposed to Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense which didn't rely on a traditional point guard), while Butler is also having his struggles in this offense because he's entrusted to catch-and-shoot more instead of making plays off the dribble. They're getting there, but they're still not there yet. They're basically the reason why the offense, which was supposed to be a huge strength, is not performing. The defense has been better, but the offense has been performing way below expectations.
Injuries hurt too - no Antawn Jamison for eight games, no Mike Miller right now. A tough early schedule too. They're starting to turn it around, though they aren't there yet, so that's a good sign.
HQ: What effect with the death of Abe Pollin have on this franchise?
The players said they loved him, but I don't think it'll affect their on-court play much. The first game without him was tough because it happened literally four hours before the Wizards played, but at this point, I think they'll be able to internalize it all and just play. Off the court, there's some speculation that the expected new owner, Ted Leonsis, might cut payroll if the Wizards don't improve, but I think that's also not a given. Leonsis already owned half the team anyway, and he surely played a major role in the decision-making process as Pollin's health declined. It's possible Ted cuts costs in the short-term to begin a rebuilding project, but it's far from a certainty.
HQ: What are the keys to the game for the Wizards to ensure they secure another win against the Raps?
Contain Bosh, like they did in the first matchup, and get Gilbert Arenas aggressive against Calderon's porous defense. Arenas was complaining after the Bucks game that he wasn't getting enough calls, but he needs to stop thinking about that and just drive. Toronto can't guard him when he's aggressive. Same with Caron Butler. In general, get to the hoop and don't settle for 17-footers. Toronto won't work hard enough to stop you, so don't bail them out with mid-range shots.
Apparently the Raptors crappy defense isn't much of a secret but maybe he doesn't know about the one hour meeting that will fix everything!
Make sure to join the conversation when we open the Game Day Thread tonight at 6:45 pm.