Be still my heart.
Did my eyes deceive me or could the Wizards have actually beaten the Boston Celtics by 25 points the other night?
No, Tony, not 25.
Darn. I knew it was too good to be true.
They beat Boston by 45.
The Boston Celtics? The guys in green? The team that went to the Eastern Conference finals last season? With Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker? Those Boston Celtics?
The Wizards haven't beaten anybody by 45 points in 24 years. Heck, the Wizards only scored 68 points the night before in Toronto. They were awful. You know how sometimes when a team is disorganized you'll say, "They played like they didn't know each other"? The Wizards played like they couldn't see each other. Michael Jordan played like it was a pick-up game with those mopes in his Hanes underwear commercial. (I mean, the last thing you want is to turn to your pal after Jordan scores his ninth point and say, "That's a new season high for Jordan," like I said to Wilbon at the Celtics game.)
So in one game the Wizards went from 68 points to 114. If they keep that pace up, they'll get 162 tonight against New Jersey. It might even be enough to win. (Providing Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin go 8 for 32 combined like Pierce and Walker did. That was brutal. I hesitate to use the old cliche about laying bricks, but when Pierce and Walker were finished there was a new three-bedroom, center-hall Colonial on F St.)
I don't want to get carried away. It's only one game. I don't want to get all gushy, like Wilbon does after every home opener -- and he writes how this is the best Wizards team he's seen in years. (And then they go on to lose nine in a row.)
But here's the list of teams that have beaten the Boston Celtics by 45 points in a regular season NBA game: The Wizards; Thursday night. That's it. That's the list.
Okay, these aren't the Celtics of Russell, Heinsohn and Cousy. Or the Celtics of Havlicek and Cowens. Or the Celtics of Bird, McHale and Parish. But these aren't the Wizards of Mike Smith, Michael Smith and Lorenzo Williams either. You look top to bottom on this roster, and everyone can play. When was the last time you could say that about a Bullets/Wizards team?
Um, 1996-97, with Webber, Howard, Muresan, Strickland and Cheaney starting, and they made the playoffs and played the Jordan Bulls a tough three games. The next season it all blew up in their faces and they won 18 games. Hey, you asked.
There are obvious flaws with this team: They have no long-range shooters. And their best players play the same position. When Michael Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes are on the court, they might end up so tangled together you'll think they're playing Twister.
After two such wildly divergent games it's impossible to know which are the real Wizards: The ones who sucked eggs against Toronto, or the ones who spun gold against Boston. Jordan is a case in point. Eight points, one assist in 25 minutes one night; 21 points, five assists in 21 minutes the next. (Who was he against Toronto, Vernon Jordan?)
But it's still early enough to hope. And the hope is that this Kwame Brown is the one they drafted with the overall No. 1 pick last year. And that other Kwame Brown, the guy who had no pulse last season, has drifted away somewhere, maybe to Remulac. Because we're talking night and day here. We're talking Shania Twain and Mark Twain.
If Kwame Brown has come this far over the summer, then everything changes. Everybody's got guards, but there aren't many good young big men in the Eastern Conference. Kenyon Martin and Jermaine O'Neal come to mind. If Kwame Brown rises to that level, the Wizards could be good. With Brown and Jared Jeffries the Wizards are in the same spot as the Bulls with Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler -- holding tickets for the boat, and wondering if it's a tug or the QEII. (Of course, if Kwame Brown really does blossom this season, everyone who understands the Curse O' Les Boulez will immediately ask: How soon will the Wizards trade Kwame, and which old, small guard will they get in return?)
In the Toronto game, we saw what has happened to the Wizards. In the Boston game, we saw what could happen. In the spirit of Halloween, think of it like Trick or Treat. They knock on one door, they get Julia Roberts. They knock on another door, they get Doris Roberts. It's in their hands.