"Happy Birthday"

The Wizards came back from a 2-0 defict to beat the Bulls back in 2005 but it won't be so easy this time. The Bulls had Ben Gordon. The Cavs have, well, you know who.

However, it all reminds me of my favorite moments from that Bulls series: After Andres Nocioni played so well in games one and two, the legendary Lacy Banks (hope you're feeling better Lacy. Prayers from every one of us fellow beat writers are with you brother) asked Antawn Jamison about the huge game Nocioni had in Game 2.
Antawn digested the quesion, thought about it for a second and then dropped one of the funniest lines I've ever encountered as a sports writer: "Well," Jamison said, as he looked up with a straight face. "Happy birthday."
And that was it.
The way he said it and the facial expression he said it with made all of us crack up for a good two minutes. Today, I started to ask Antawn a question about whether he remembered how the team felt going into Game 3 of that Chicago series and without me referencing "happy birthday" he broke into a huge big grin.

"Oh, you mean the happy birthday series? Yeah, I remember that."
So there it is, if the Wizards want to turn this series around, they just need to pull an Antawn and just say "Happy Birthday." It's sort of the modern day version of how Dick Motta and a certain fat lady help the Bullets pull one out. (Scroll down and as you do, take notice of the game right about the one I'm talking about. Interesting.)

- For all of the talk about referees and fouls and the ejection of Brendan Haywood (not to mention Soulja Boy, Jaz Z and long-retired Russian wrestlers), the bottom line hasn't changed.

The Cavaliers have played better basketball in this series. 2-0 doesn't lie. LeBron James is trumping Washington's three current or former all-stars.

Because DeShawn Stevenson and Gilbert Arenas talked trash before the series and because the Wizards resorted to soft basketball on the road when they could have stolen Game 1, Game 3 is critical. If the Wizards get it, the feel of the series changes.

The key for the Wizards is Caron Butler. He has two field goals in two games and has looked nothing like the guy I saw put up 40 and dominate that night in Milwaukee when he injured his right hip. Keep in mind that only one player in the NBA this season put up at least 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. It was Butler.

I haven't been able to ask Butler for a take on how he's feeling because he hasn't talked since shootaround on the day of Game 2 but he's clearly off. Before the series began, Butler, who missed the last three games of the regular season with a bruised right knee, said that he was "banged up" but ready to play through it
.
I asked Eddie Jordan about the relative health of Arenas and Butler today and here was his answer:

"Caron seems to be farely healthy," Jordan said. "Gil's far from behing Gil. And we know that. But look, they don't have Sasha Pavlovic and they've got some guys banged up. LeBron's got a bad back. So, you know, we can't use that as an excuse but, Gi's flat out not healthy. He's not nearly the Gil we're going to see in October."

- Rookie Nick Young played the role of LeBron James today in practice. In the past Young has been Kobe Bryant in practice (and then there was that night at Staples Center when he pulled a Kobe by going off on his hometown team in the fourth quarter of a close loss.)

Naturally, and because I fancy my self a comedian, I asked Eddie if Nick was able to take three steps on every drive to the basket. (C'mon Cleveland fan. That's just a little funny). Eddie laughed but didn't say anything. Interesting thought from Nick, who grew up in Los Angeles and idolized (still does I think) Kobe. He was asked about which player is tougher to mimic in practice: "I'd say LeBron. Because he's so big. It's hard to copy that."

-Jordan said the Wizards can't draw much from the 2005 series against the Bulls when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to win four straight. "That Chicago team didn't have LeBron James," Jordan said. "So, it's not like I'm pulling out the tape of that game to get an idea of what to expect."

-Jordan on the pressure associated with being down 2-0: "Well, you gotta play well at home. So, you have to play well. You've got to play hard, you've got to play well, you've gotta make shots. We have a team full of veterans. If we had a young team. A team with second or third year guys playing a lot of minutes, then I'd be concerncd. But we've got guys who have been here before."

By Ivan Carter |  April 23, 2008; 10:04 PM ET
Previous: The Soulja Boy Factor? | Next: Butler breaks it down

Comments

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Man, it would be so nice to beat these arseholes.

Posted by: oddjob | April 23, 2008 11:01 PM

I'm a pathetic Cleveland Fan. Can I please post on your blog? It's the only we can feel good about ourselves and city. We get happy about small accomplishments such as a 2-0 series lead to over compensate for the fact that our pathetic city hasn't been able to win ANY sports Championships. I hope you understand. You will be seeing us around your blog a whole lot, we got 50 years to make up.

Posted by: Cleveland Fan | April 23, 2008 11:09 PM

Who cares if Gil is not the Gil of October?!?! If he's not healthy enough to play, then sit his butt down!

Tired of this excuse filled crap! Gil was perfectly healthy against the Cavs two seasons ago, and they still didn't beat the Cavs!

SOTS!!!

Posted by: Sane Wiz Fan | April 23, 2008 11:11 PM


I Am Antawn Jamison (And So Can You!)

Posted by: TruthAboutIt.net | April 23, 2008 11:21 PM

Gosh...and to think people were debating earlier this season about whether people would trade Gil for Chris Paul or even Deron Williams.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2008 11:52 PM

Gosh...and to think people were debating earlier this season about whether people would trade Gil for Chris Paul or even Deron Williams.

Posted by: | April 23, 2008 11:52 PM

Gosh I would like to see what kind of year Chris Paul or even Deron Williams would have if they had 2 knee surgeries in 1 season.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 23, 2008 11:59 PM

I did not write that

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 12:21 AM

I did not write that

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 12:21 AM

I did not write that

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 12:29 AM

The Cavaliers have played better basketball in this series. 2-0 doesn't lie. LeBron James is trumping Washington's three current or former all-stars.

-------------------------------------------

Geez will the beat writers here stop being so darn biased? BooHoo. Stop being so biased against Cleveland. BooHoo. Now if you will excuse me I will know go read an unbiased article about how LeBron gets mugged worse than any NBA player in history everytime he goes to the hoop.

Posted by: Unbiased Cleveland Fan | April 24, 2008 12:33 AM

Any Cleveland fan complaining about bias, jus leave the site, Carter is giving us a great blog and is very entertaining. Face it, objective is BORING. Do you know if nick young will ever play?

Posted by: Jstack42 | April 24, 2008 12:49 AM

wow. people here are literally losing their minds....

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 1:24 AM

wow. people here are literally losing their minds....

Posted by: | April 24, 2008 1:24 AM


Can you blame us...50 years of pathetic losing from all of our TEAMS

Posted by: Cleveland Fan | April 24, 2008 1:36 AM

free white t-shirts at the VC should help the "white out"

Posted by: tinyjordan | April 24, 2008 2:19 AM

good luck on anything free from Abe Pollin

Posted by: khrabb | April 24, 2008 4:18 AM

Maybe he'll raise the price of the donuts at the VC from $2 each to $2.50 each to subsidize it, Khrabb.

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 7:08 AM

Gosh I would like to see what kind of year Chris Paul or even Deron Williams would have if they had 2 knee surgeries in 1 season.
---------------------------------------
Gosh I would like to see the Wizards go a whole series without making excuses for Arenas choking.

Posted by: DCMan88 | April 24, 2008 7:13 AM

Classic EJ, but not a strategy, game plan or a winning formula:

"Well, you gotta play well at home. So, you have to play well. You've got to play hard, you've got to play well, you've gotta make shots. We have a team full of veterans. If we had a young team. A team with second or third year guys playing a lot of minutes, then I'd be concerned. But we've got guys who have been here before."

Posted by: Izman | April 24, 2008 7:19 AM

oops now this hurts.....oops now that hurts...I hurt myself fouling Lebron....Gee.. throwing Lebron off the floor is like "golf"...Wizards need to understand they play better without Gilly Zero...and are a better team without him...
then they changed their style to be playoff roughhousers and thats not them. End of game 1 Gilly Zero dribbling around and taking bad shots - no motion offense there..just Gilly Zero chucking for....Gilly Zero..
The series is tonight - either "series on" or the countdown begins to the end and a roster redo for the Wiz..but you better go get jerseys for Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes..

and Lebron does get mugged more than any player and he gets fouls called only a minority of the time...so you guys can har har that one and call him LeTravel - sorry he's the best player in the game and he rises up to the occassion...has anyone playing for washington upgraded their game for the playoffs..yet?? I feel for Jamison..he is stuck in a tough spot with lotsa suspects..

Posted by: DC in CTown | April 24, 2008 7:34 AM

Seems like Butler and Jamison have played worse than Arenas. Antawn is 14 for 37 for the series and missed several open shots down the stretch in game 1 that could have help seal the game.
As far as the beating Lebron supposedly takes, Andre Blache has been hit harder this series and you haven't seen any tears from him.

Posted by: bowiemd | April 24, 2008 7:50 AM

it wasn't just gilbert that played poorly in game 2, it was everybody. there wasn't one person that stepped up. anybody that's blaming gilbert for the poor performances in either game 1 or 2 is sorely mistaken.

the person who needs to step it up right now is Caron Butler. he's been nothing but a shell of his regular season self. all those idiots that think we should dump Gil and "rebuild" around Caron need to take an unbiased look at the playoff series. i don't know how you can crucify gil and proclaim caron the savior of the franchise when caron is the guy who's supposed to be leading this franchise in this dismal playoff series. Butler needs to step up NOW.

Posted by: psps23 | April 24, 2008 8:37 AM

Izman is correct, EJ has no strategy for winning other than to run the trio out there and "play hard" This is shaping up to be replay of the last years series where EJ made NO ADJUSTMENTS until game 4.

Coach Brown has Eddie's number and it's easy to do - guard the trio well with size and we fold. The Cavs don't have to worry about us trying to feed Haywood or Blatche in the post, or speeding things up with the more atheletic Nick Young because Blatche & Young won't crack garbage time if-that.

Posted by: Wizzy | April 24, 2008 8:48 AM

I heard they are giving out free white T-shirts at VC tonight that say "Rewriting The Rules!"

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 9:00 AM

"Caron seems to be farely healthy."

Can't the Post afford spellcheck?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 9:56 AM

Tonight is the night. Cleveland fans are already declaring the series over. If the Wiz can't get motivated in front of the home crowd after taking that beating in Ohio, they should be swept out of the playoffs. Cleveland has held home court advantage, which is what they are supposed to do. The Cavs (who have outplayed us thus far) run the risk of overconfidence. Let's take advantage of that. Play our brand of basketball, make James shoot jumpers, and if he comes down the lane, put him on the floor. That's all we need to do. We have to hold our home court and take one game in Cleveland. Hard, not impossible.

Posted by: DC The Kid | April 24, 2008 9:57 AM

Plenty of good, cut price seats available for tonight. Doubt it will be a sell-out... sad. The Wizards better step up, or they risk losing this town.

Posted by: Kev | April 24, 2008 10:07 AM

I guess no one noticed that the rest of the team was shooting air balls and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn the other night. When Gil misses, all of a sudden he's a selfish player just hoisting up bad shots.
Maybe it's just me but if this team needs a basket and everybody is cold, I'd rather have Gil shoot than anyone else because at least he may draw a foul. On a few of those shots he took, you could argue that he was fouled when he went to the basket. maybe in DC he gets those calls. If anyone in the big 3 should be expected to step it up in a big way, it should be Caron. He's underachieved. Blame it on the injury or whatever but we need him to be the Caron that we saw earlier this year.

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 10:51 AM

If there are seats available, that's pretty sad.
Maybe everyone is going to the Nationals/Mets game tonight. (yes that was a joke).

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 10:58 AM

"I guess no one noticed that the rest of the team was shooting air balls and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn the other night. When Gil misses, all of a sudden he's a selfish player just hoisting up bad shots.
Maybe it's just me but if this team needs a basket and everybody is cold, I'd rather have Gil shoot than anyone else because at least he may draw a foul. On a few of those shots he took, you could argue that he was fouled when he went to the basket. maybe in DC he gets those calls. If anyone in the big 3 should be expected to step it up in a big way, it should be Caron. He's underachieved. Blame it on the injury or whatever but we need him to be the Caron that we saw earlier this year.

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 10:51 AM "

Another genius thought from mark, nevermind the fact that Caron carried the team for most of the season into the 5th place in the playoffs.

Team doesn't do so well without Caron, and Caron doesn't cry about injuries, limp wrists, or flop on defense.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 11:06 AM

Cavs are gonna win, sorry.

Get a spell checker.

Posted by: Matt | April 24, 2008 11:14 AM

There's plenty of blame to go around. Teams dont lose by 30 points in the playoffs because just one or two guys are playing bad.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 11:21 AM

Caron can't be tentative tonight. If the knee is healthy enough then Caron needs to go to the basket tonight and establish that early.

Posted by: George Templeton | April 24, 2008 11:34 AM

Another genius thought from mark, nevermind the fact that Caron carried the team for most of the season into the 5th place in the playoffs.

Team doesn't do so well without Caron, and Caron doesn't cry about injuries, limp wrists, or flop on defense.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 11:06 AM

Let me get this straight.

Gilbert is crucified by "fans", despite carrying this team to the playoffs 4 years in a row, and despite also carrying this team from a 2-0 deficit to win a playoff series, he is somehow judged as "doesn't step up in big games".

However, Caron is PRAISED for carrying this team to the 5th seed, despite the fact that he's played the worse basketball of the season in the playoffs. And not only is he playing bad, but he's not even attempting to take over the games the way your leader should.

Somehow, Caron receives higher marks than Gilbert right now. Like you said DCman, that's a genius thought.

Posted by: psps23 | April 24, 2008 11:37 AM

Right on, psps23. I wasn't going to comment because of the source of the statement but I'm glad you did.
The fact is, I like Caron and think he's a good player. It just seems like Gil gets all of the blame when we lose and none of the credit when we win (or go to the playoffs for 4 years straight like psps23 said).
I think Mike Lee made a great point about where we are right now. We're not supposed to sweep the Cavs in Cleveland. We had a legitimate shot in game 1 but missed a ton of open shots. I doubt we continue to miss open looks like that. We're one bad strecth from being tied in this series and that's with one of our best guys doing virtually nothing. It's not time to panic unless we lose tonight. We're still in this.

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 11:44 AM

GO WIZARDS! GO WIZARDS! GO WIZARDS!

SHAKE OF THE HATERS GIL AND CARON!

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ GUYS. THE POSTS HERE DO NOT REPRESENT THE WHOLE CITY. DC LOVES THE WIZARDS AND WE WILL BE OUT IN FULL FORCE TONIGHT SO YOU GUYS HAD BETTER BRING IT BECAUSE WE WILL.

GO WIZARDS! GO WIZARDS! GO WIZARDS!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 12:02 PM

Agree 100%, mark. I love Caron, but I can't stand the people who ignorantly rip Arenas for every fault of this team.

And like you said, this series is nowhere near over. As long as the beating that took place on Monday doesn't kill our players confidence (and I don't think it has, judging from the comments I've read), we've still got more than a legit shot to swing the momentum in our favor. The tone needs to be set tonight at the VC.

Posted by: psps23 | April 24, 2008 12:05 PM

Right now neither Gil or Caron are healthy. Therefore the big three doesn't exist in this playoff series. The Wizards are down to one allstar to counter superstar James. I know James has a bad back but injuries to the wrist and knee and/or hip may be more debilitating. For example, it's hard to see how one can shoot with a sprained wrist.

Posted by: browneri | April 24, 2008 12:21 PM

Just win.

Posted by: khrabb | April 24, 2008 12:29 PM

Just win.

Posted by: khrabb | April 24, 2008 12:29 PM

amen. just win.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 12:33 PM

News flash: NBA Championships Washington 1, Cleveland 0.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 1:07 PM

I won't make the game tonight but you guys that are going have to represent for us all and really make a lotta noise. LeBron can be rattled. Look at the way he acts when he gets a boo boo on his lip. Bring the noise.
On a side note, whoever put the
anti-Cleveland filter on this blog deserves a raise. Those guys were getting annoying. I can understand supporting your team but sheesh. They were just trying to get under our skin(s).

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 1:09 PM

yes, for the life of me, Gilberts no praise when he has facilitated us going to the playoffs for years straight wheras if we lose, it's all Gilbert's fault. He doesnt start the game and i didnt see Antonio doing anything either!

Posted by: washingtonian | April 24, 2008 1:11 PM

Agree with psps23 and mark re: CB3. He has the easiest offensive matchup going against the immobile Wally World. If he's not going to take it to the basket and create, then he should be the one being critized by the fans. Gilbert has played a total of 7 games since he came back and is clearly not 100%. Caron has been the team's go to player for much of the season and needs to step up into that role if we are going to have a chance.

The other big thing that is missing is the ball movement that frees up our role players like Mason and Songaila for open shots. We're not playing the system that worked when GA was out. AJ needs to find his shot since Wallace is basically giving him wide open looks every possession. EJ needs to make in game adjustments like most coaches when his top players are off. No reason to keep Nick Young on the bench when Stevenson is pathetic and Mason isn't hitting his shots.

Fans need to stop directing their frustration at a 75% Agent Zero and be happy that he even is playing.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 24, 2008 1:34 PM

I agree 100% mark and psps--the Wiz fans are a fickle bunch--Gil goes from saviour to doghouse very quickly. If he comes out tonight and plays decently and the Wiz win because the dude can make a bucket from outside the VC, then he's our hero again.

I wonder what's up with Caron. It seems unlike him to fold like this. The Caron of early this season would pick this team up, carry them on his back, and gut out a win. The fact that Wally's getting the best of him is completely perplexing.

Posted by: Lou | April 24, 2008 1:42 PM

Gosh I would like to see what kind of year Chris Paul or even Deron Williams would have if they had 2 knee surgeries in 1 season.
---------------------------------------
Gosh I would like to see the Wizards go a whole series without making excuses for Arenas choking.

Posted by: DCMan88 | April 24, 2008 7:13 AM

That wasn't me

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 1:53 PM

oops now this hurts.....oops now that hurts...I hurt myself fouling Lebron....Gee.. throwing Lebron off the floor is like "golf"...Wizards need to understand they play better without Gilly Zero...and are a better team without him...
then they changed their style to be playoff roughhousers and thats not them. End of game 1 Gilly Zero dribbling around and taking bad shots - no motion offense there..just Gilly Zero chucking for....Gilly Zero..
The series is tonight - either "series on" or the countdown begins to the end and a roster redo for the Wiz..but you better go get jerseys for Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes..

and Lebron does get mugged more than any player and he gets fouls called only a minority of the time...so you guys can har har that one and call him LeTravel - sorry he's the best player in the game and he rises up to the occassion...has anyone playing for washington upgraded their game for the playoffs..yet?? I feel for Jamison..he is stuck in a tough spot with lotsa suspects..

Posted by: DC in CTown | April 24, 2008 7:34 AM

Yeah that's true. Gilby played horrible. Jamison played great. Butler played great. Daniels played great. The whole bench played great. Every one took great shots and played great D except Gilby. Gilby had 2 major surgeries this year, but that's not excuse at all. Even I can play great after 2 surgeries. It's all Gilby's fault.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 1:55 PM

"Yeah that's true. Gilby played horrible. Jamison played great. Butler played great. Daniels played great. The whole bench played great. Every one took great shots and played great D except Gilby. Gilby had 2 major surgeries this year, but that's not excuse at all. Even I can play great after 2 surgeries. It's all Gilby's fault."

I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Neck of Eackles | April 24, 2008 2:21 PM

"Fans need to stop directing their frustration at a 75% Agent Zero and be happy that he even is playing.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 24, 2008 1:34 PM "

That's right. Fans shouldn't be directing their frustration at 65% Caron too!

Posted by: GM | April 24, 2008 2:22 PM

"yes, for the life of me, Gilberts no praise when he has facilitated us going to the playoffs for years straight wheras if we lose, it's all Gilbert's fault. He doesnt start the game and i didnt see Antonio doing anything either!

Posted by: washingtonian | April 24, 2008 1:11 PM "

That kind of happens sometimes when the player is the face of the franchise, talks out of his @ss against other teams, and wants a big contract. Who else do you blame? DMac?

BTW, it was Larry Hughes who "facilitated the team to the playoffs."

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 2:24 PM

"yes, for the life of me, Gilberts no praise when he has facilitated us going to the playoffs for years straight wheras if we lose, it's all Gilbert's fault. He doesnt start the game and i didnt see Antonio doing anything either!

Posted by: washingtonian | April 24, 2008 1:11 PM "

That kind of happens sometimes when the player is the face of the franchise, talks out of his @ss against other teams, and wants a big contract. Who else do you blame? DMac?

BTW, it was Larry Hughes who "facilitated the team to the playoffs."

Posted by: mark | April 24, 2008 2:24 PM

Larry Hughes??? That's the dumbest post ever on this site

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 24, 2008 2:43 PM

"Keep in mind that only one player in the NBA this season put up at least 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. It was Butler."

And after you "keep that in mind" then keep in mind that Lebron averaged 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.84 steals per game. Too bad lebron didnt average .16 more steals or there would be no need to ever talk about Butler.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 3:40 PM

This team hasn't been the same since Larry left.

Posted by: Lisa | April 24, 2008 3:52 PM

Lebron who?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 4:28 PM

"Keep in mind that only one player in the NBA this season put up at least 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. It was Butler."

And after you "keep that in mind" then keep in mind that Lebron averaged 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.84 steals per game. Too bad lebron didnt average .16 more steals or there would be no need to ever talk about Butler.

Posted by: | April 24, 2008 3:40 PM

Too bad our pathetic city didn't win any championships in 50 years or there would be no need to ever talk about this city.

Posted by: Cleveland Fan | April 24, 2008 6:31 PM

You know its bad when fans have nothing left to talk about other than the city not winning championships. Were beating your asses so bad you have to resort to that.

Go Wizards, lol

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 7:27 PM

You know its bad when Cavs fans have an elitist attitude when their team has never won anything. The Cavs have never done anything ever except suck really bad and get lucky in the Draft Lottery.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 24, 2008 7:43 PM

I'm a pathetic Cleveland Fan. Can I please post on your blog? It's the only we can feel good about ourselves and city. We get happy about small accomplishments such as a 2-0 series lead to over compensate for the fact that our pathetic city hasn't been able to win ANY sports Championships. On top of all that, Lebron will opt out and leave us just like the Browns did. We won't have anyone else's nutz to slurp on anymore. I hope you understand. You will be seeing us around your blog a whole lot, we got 50 years to make up.


I know you guys won big tonight, but I'm sure me and other pathetic Cleveland Fans will continue to come to your site and talk trash. We talk trash even though our city hasn't won any championships, so why stop even if we got our butts kicked by 36 pts.

Posted by: Cleveland Fan | April 24, 2008 11:11 PM

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