- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

Mike Miller is down to an arm and a leg. That means he probably will try to give it a go Tuesday night unless Flip Saunders ties him to a seat on the bench.

Miller has been one of the two reliable ones on the Wizards - Brendan Haywood being the other.

The sight of Miller being helped to the locker room in San Antonio is emblematic of a team wallowing in hurt, physical as well as mental.

Everyone can point a finger to the cause of the team’s 3-9 start, some of those fingers belonging to the would-be player-coaches in the locker room.

The grumbling is to be expected given the Wizards’ expectations going into the season.

Those expectations have been supplanted by a lack of resolve and continuity. If it is not the absence of defense in Oklahoma City, it is the absence of rebounding in San Antonio.

Either shortcoming undermines a team’s best intentions.

That is assuming the intentions of the Wizards are acceptable.

You could argue otherwise.

The Wizards have been careless with the ball, taken too many quick shots, taken too many bad shots and sometimes forgotten an elementary principle of playing on the road, which is to be aggressive.

The Wizards came out shooting perimeter shots in San Antonio. Not that this mode of attack was their only transgression. But it encapsulated their soft mindset. They would not be committing to the gritty stuff that is necessary on the road, especially against an opponent such as the Spurs.

Twelve games hardly constitute a season. Yet the Wizards are so out of sorts, so lacking in dependable player combinations, so devoid of energy on too many occasions, that it is not premature to think they are in a serious bind.

It turns out an encouraging opening night came about because of Gilbert Arenas being able to get any shot he wanted against the laterally challenged Jason Kidd. That has not been the case since then.

Arenas is missing a half-step. Even when he is able to get to the basket, he does not finish in the manner he once did. That makes him more reliant on his perimeter shot, where it is more difficult to establish a shooting rhythm. Nothing establishes a good shooting rhythm like a couple of easy baskets.

The Wizards, in effect, are still waiting on Arenas.

You do not overcome three knee surgeries and two lost seasons in 12 games. It may take Arenas most of the season to resurrect his old self, if he ever does.

The trickle-down effect of a substandard Arenas sets in motion the corrosion of the offense. He is going to get his shots, just not the kind that compromise the integrity of a defense. Sometimes there is no logic to when Arenas takes a shot.

All this is understandable. Arenas is returning from an interminable rehabilitation process. He is not who he was. And getting back to who he was will not be easy on him or his teammates, not when he has the ball in his hands so much of the time.

You can imagine his old teammates sometimes thinking, “Who is this guy?”

They fed off him in the past. Now they must adapt to a player still finding his way, still regaining his instincts, still not there.

The Wizards sometimes resort to speaking in code after another deflating performance. Saunders sometimes says the ball “sticks too long” in places. The players discuss the need to pass the ball, move the ball and get everyone involved.

These are all thinly veiled references to Arenas, for he is the point guard and the franchise.

His struggles are those of the team, with no easy solutions, other than Arenas getting more games under his surgically repaired knee.

If he ever busts out in a big way, so many of the team’s problems will disappear in an instant.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide