Arenas' Wizards hope to avoid another slow start to season Print
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Tuesday, 30 October 2007 07:36
NBA Headline News

 WASHINGTON (AP) -Anyone who was paying attention knows about the Washington Wizards' poor finish last season. The poor start? Oh, the Wizards remember that, too.
``We don't want to wait 10, 15 games into the season - we have to get it off from the start,'' forward Antawn Jamison said. ``Another slow start ... we know how that feels. We want to start off a lot better than we have the last couple of seasons.''
Washington begins the new season with a game at the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. That's followed by another road contest, at the Boston Celtics on Friday, before the home opener against the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
It's the beginning of what could be a key stretch that includes 10 of the first 16 games away from home.
``We are jelling as a group ... offensively and defensively,'' Gilbert Arenas said, ``and we are ready to show what we have on Wednesday night.''
A year ago, the Wizards opened up 4-9 overall and a franchise-worst 0-8 on the road. That was part of a season of streaks in which they led the Eastern Conference at the midway point but ended with a 2-8 skid and finished at .500.
The Wizards followed that rough, 13-game start with a 13-3 run. A 3-4 stretch was followed by a 7-1 streak - and then things really began to sway back-and-forth. Washington went 1-4, then 3-0, then 0-4, then 3-0, and so on.
The closing collapse was attributable to season-ending injuries in April to All-Stars Arenas (left knee) and Caron Butler (broken right hand).
No such explanation for the rough start.
Or the one in 2005-06, when a 5-1 opening was quickly followed by a 3-10 rut, including a five-game losing streak.
Coach Eddie Jordan is counting on avoiding similar shakiness thanks to having his core of starters back for a second consecutive season. Arenas, Butler and Jamison are joined once again by DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood. The first options off the bench are basically the same, too, including Andray Blatche and Antonio Daniels.
``The continuity theme is at its all-time highest to me,'' Jordan said. ``And hopefully that'll be our biggest ally to start the season: We don't have to relearn something or break somebody in, except for the rookies.''
There could be early contributions from this year's draft choices, guard Nick Young and forward Dominic McGuire. But 2006 pick Oleksiy Pecherov, a 7-footer who likes to shoot from outside and played last season in his native Ukraine, will have to wait to make his NBA debut. He sprained his right ankle in practice Sunday and is expected to miss up to two weeks.
Wednesday's game will be the first true test for Arenas' surgically repaired knee.
He's been proclaiming himself ready to go since before training camp began.
``He looks good,'' Jordan said after practice Monday. ``He's fast. He's quick.''
Arenas is looking forward to getting out on that court against the Pacers.
``It's like going back to school,'' the point guard said. ``You can't sleep that night; you've got all of your clothes ready to go.''
 

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