Thursday, May 04, 2006
Pistons Fans Should Be Rooting For LeBron And His "James Gang" To Survive Arenas' Wizards
Hail to the King -- it's better for the Pistons
Go, LeBron! Go, Eric Snow! Go that Ilgauskas guy!
I've watched the Washington Wizards a few times this season -- mainly when they've been beating the Pistons -- and I watched much of last night's Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I have four words.
Gilbert Arenas scares me.
I mean, he doesn't scare me to the point that I think the Wizards, despite their 3-0 record against the Pistons this season -- can win a playoff series over Detroit, but he's enough of a hotshot shooter that he could make a best-of-seven affair rather uncomfortable.
The Wizards lost it in OT last night, 121-120, but Arenas was constantly throwing daggers: Three-pointers; turnaround jumpers; driving layups; off-blance circus stuff. And his shots hardly touched rim. He swished more than a toilet in a public restroom at Grand Central Station.
Arenas frightens me more than LeBron James because: He seems to have longer range than LeBron; and Arenas appears to make his teammates better players more than James does. Maybe I can just see the Pistons containing James more than I can see them handling Arenas.
Of course, this doesn't mean the Wizzes can wave their magic wands for anything more than two victories in a series with the Pistons, but I don't see all four Detroit victories being as easy as they'd be against the Cavs. The Wizards also have Antawn Jamison, and he can cause trouble, too.
Arenas' range can be deadly
But back to Arenas. His range is impressive, and whenever a guy can rain triples on you, it makes him harder to defend. And the more I watched that fabulous Game 5 last night, the more ghoulish thoughts I got in my head about what Arenas could do -- nearly single-handedly -- early in a series. Steal Game 1? Lead the Wizzes to a 2-1 advantage after three?
Defensively, however, is where the Wizards fall short, and it's what might keep them from advancing past Cleveland to begin with. On the game-winning shot -- taken by James, naturally -- the Wizards defenders let LeBron drive the baseline, squeeze out of a weak trap, and slither under the bucket for an easy scoop and score. Without hardly being touched. In less than three seconds. The Pistons would never allow that to happen, first of all -- at least not without a couple of conks on the noggin. Secondly, if that's Washington's idea of clamp-down defense when the chips are down, then what in the world are they going to do against Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace? Everyone in the free world last night knew LeBron James was taking the last shot, so the Wizzes had one player to worry about. And they let him squirt through them -- all of them -- like it was a no-contact drill. End of game. Maybe end of series.
But like I said, that would be okay by me -- if the Pistons were to face the Cavs instead of the Wizzes. LeBron James and his team have a lot of a 1988 and '89 Bulls look to them. It's not his time yet.
And it's not Gilbert Arenas' either, but I just sense there'll be a bit more drama and angst for the Pistons, facing he and his fellow Wizards in the second round, than if they went up against LeBron and the "James Gang."
Besides, you know what happened to the James Gang in the end, don't you?