WASHINGTON — The Sports Junkies have a way about reducing the powerful emotions of playoff heartache down to a few simple thoughts.
It’s therapeutic, almost, to simplify these emotions over outcomes of which you have literally zero control, like those brought on by the Wizards dropping Game 7 to the Celtics in Boston Monday night.
Their broadcast featured a heavy dose of Ian Mahinmi-bashing. Mahinmi served as a beacon of inefficiency in Game 7, going 0-for-1 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free-throw line with zero rebounds, one assist, a turnover, one block and four personal fouls — all in just 10 minutes on the court.
“Here’s what really tilted me last night, while I was watching Ian Mahinmi lumber around and just do nothing,” John Auville said Tuesday morning. “I realized we were this close to getting Al Horford. Al Horford came down to the Celtics and the Wizards. He signs with the Celtics, then our backup plan was Ian Mahinmi. Look at the discrepancy in the numbers between Al Horford’s production and Ian Mahinmi’s just in this series!”
“Isn’t it embarrassing how we’ve lowered the bar?” Eric Bickel said. “We’ve actually lowered the bar to just want to get to a conference championship. That’s embarrassing.”
“I would take a bag of balls over Ian Mahinmi with his performance last night,” Auville said.
“I don’t know why I didn’t realize this for the last several years that [Marcin] Gortat’s been on the team,” John-Paul Flaim said. “But does anyone have worse hands than him?”
“Bulletin to Ernie,” Auville said. “Don’t acquire any more guys named ‘Yon.’
“It’s a different spelling,” Flaim said, referring to the difference in spellings of Jan Vesely and Ian Mahinmi. “The other one was ‘Jan.'”
“I don’t care,” Auville said. “You still pronounce it ‘Yon,’ right? Anyone named ‘Jan’ or ‘Yon,’ we’re not interested.”
Jason Bishop: “Or ‘Ian.'”
Bickel: “I like ‘LeBron.’ Get somebody named ‘LeBron.'”
Bishop: “How about anybody with three letters in their first name, you don’t want.”
Flaim looked to the Wizards’ recent past for some perspective on how far the franchise has come.
“Two years ago they were right here,” Flaim said. “Two years ago they were right here with Randy Wittman, and they were a better defensive team with Randy Wittman and I would say the bench was better. Now, it was aging, but they had Paul Pierce. I think they had Trevor Ariza. Trevor Ariza got paid, I understand that. That team swept the Raptors, took on a one-seed just like this team took on a one-seed in the Celtics.
“Both of the one-seeds were teams that we thought were vulnerable, because we all know that Cleveland is the best team in the East. And that Wizards team didn’t advance, and the talk was, ‘Well, John Wall had his hurt hand,’ which he did, and then the next year they didn’t make the playoffs.”
“So there’s no guarantee they’re gonna be back and taking a step forward next year because, in all likelihood, and I support this, they’ll let Otto [Porter] walk,” he said. “Because Otto’s gonna get paid. You can’t pay this guy max money. He had a good game yesterday but he had a donut the night before. He’s a spot-up three-point shooter. That’s what he is.”
“Well, he’s a good rebounder,” Bishop said. “He’s pretty active defensively. He’s more than just a spot-up.”
“He’s a nice player,” Flaim said. “But you know what? They drafted [Kelly] Oubre, who can do a lot of the same things.”
“Here’s a shorter way of saying all of that,” Bickel said. “What they did this year is about who they’re going to be the next two, three years, barring some dramatic player acquisition that we don’t foresee.”
You can’t assess the state of the Wizards franchise without determining how bright its future is.
“And the true disappointment is, usually when the Wizards disappoint us,” Flaim said, “Cakes, a couple weeks before the NBA Lottery — which is tonight — will start looking at the lottery generator.”
“Oh no, I can’t do that tonight,” Auville said. “Because, you know why? Because Boston’s going to get the No. 1 pick! The team that just eliminated the Wiz!”
Auville: “Because they did a deal with the stupid Nets where they got the No. 1 pick!”
EB: “Do we have a pick?”
JP: “A second-rounder. They traded the No. 1 for [Bojan] Bogdanovic.”
“I’m telling you,” Bickel said. “Put this in the book and we’ll come back and read this next year and the year after, the Wizards have peaked. This group has peaked. And it’s fine. It is what it is.”
“I enjoy high school basketball,” he said. “I encourage people. There’s plenty of choices. Great high school basketball out there.”