Friday, October 30, 2009

Early Season Sorting

Going into tonight's game against the predicted resurgent Wizards, we were surprised to see just how much folks believe in the Wizards rebound, even before it happens. The below is a table from the Wizards site, which lays out some of the choices for the Southeast and East in total:

Sporting News
Southeast: 1st
East: 3rd

Michael Lee, Washington Post
Southeast: 3rd
East: 5th

Mike Jones, Washington Times
Southeast: 3rd
East: 5th

Yahoo! Sports
Southeast: Tied for 2nd
East: Tied for 4th

ESPN Experts
Southeast: 3rd
East: 6th Scouts
Southeast: 3rd
East: 5th
Southeast: 3rd
East: 5th

This doesn't account for SI's own Basketball Preview selecting the Wizards as the 4th best team in the East, casting them above the Hawks or even our own panel of distinguished Hawks Bloggers mostly selecting the boys from the Cap as the team to watch in the East next season.

We're excited to see if the Wizards are indeed back--as they contain the fabulous shooting of Mike Miller (Go Gator) and the Hawk Hating Gilbert Arenas. We remember (not so) fondly Arenas, bearing the Oakland colors a few seasons back, stealing an in-bounds pass in front of Dan Dickau (Dickau playing on the final possession! Good times!) and then racing down to win the game for the Warriors. Ah yes, Arenas is a player with whom anything and any shot is possible---or would that be was after the series of injuries that have made him more bystanding than outstanding recently.

All of which makes tonight's game in Atlanta a decent early season matchup/litmus test to see where each franchise is. Have the Wizards indeed made up the considerable ground that existed between the two teams last season? Will the Hawks be just as strong as the season before with their improved bench? It's a low-impact assessment on where these two division mates reside.

This game shouldn't be cast as a defining "see there?!" for either team, but a good barometer for the early season. For the Hawks, it's a chance to show that they are still the best of the eastern rest, and to play against a team that many think are on the same level as the Birds.

Game Two awaits.

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