After several days of just playing each other in scrimmages, the Wizards are anxious to play somebody else. They get that chance here Friday versus Philadelphia in the first of just two pre-season games, but Wiz coach Flip Saunders knows his team is not ready, not just yet, for the regular season.
"We still need to work on a lot of things," Saunders said. "It will be nice for them to play against somebody else but I don't think that game can be judged for anything. The biggest thing is just going to be able to see where they really are as far as what kind of shape they are in. There will be a lot of guys that will probably hyperventilate when they get out there for the first time with a crowd."
Saunders has applauded his team's effort and focus so far in training camp and he has said that, because of the lockout-shortened pre-season and the abbreviated 66-game regular season, every practice counts for players trying to make an impression.
"When you don't have eight exhibition games and you just have a couple, youve got to produce in practices," Saunders said.
One of the things the Wizards must get better at this season is defense. Last season, the Wizards defense was porous, as they gave up an average of 104 points a game, 24th in the NBA.
"I think they have picked up things very well, Saunders said. We're extremely active in the things that we do, so we're farther ahead defensively than where I thought we'd be."
Saunders added that it is refreshing to run a camp where he and his staff can just focus on coaching basketball.
"With a shortened camp and so many young players, with eight players under 23, you are constantly in a teaching phase, and so what you can do is not afford any slippage from distractions," Saunders said.