Vol. II: Off-Season Daggers with Steve Buckhantz

WashingtonWizards.com caught up with Wizards commentator Steve Buckhantz to get his take on current happenings around the NBA

WW.com: If Chris Bosh is out for an extended period of time, do you think the Heat will still represent the East in the finals?

SB: Chris Bosh clearly makes the Heat a more formidable opponent and he creates so many more opportunities for them when he's in the line up. Having said that, I still believe Miami will advance to the Eastern Conference finals and yes, to the NBA Championship Series. Despite the loss in game two to Indiana, (and I have enjoyed watching the Pacers grow in a few short years from a decent team to a very good one) Miami not only has superior talent but they have a superstar, perhaps two. I believe each team needs one TRULY great player to be successful and when you add a Wade to that list, not to mention Bosh, you're talking about a serious contender. Don't forget their role players who have been so critical, like Haslam, Chalmers, Miller and Cole.

WW.com: Bosh joins a list that includes Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, among others that have been forced out by injury. Do you think the shortened season had an effect on the injured players this postseason?

SB: It's hard to say unequivocally that the shortened season is the reason for these injuries. 66 games in four months was taxing for everybody. I barely knew what city we were in come April and if it weren't for Phil keeping me straight I'm sure I would have had a few "welcome back to the Palace", when we were instead at Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

What WAS interesting was to see HOW players like Rose and Bosh were injured. Nobody touched Rose, he came down on two feet and tore up his knee. Bosh had some contact and went down, but has some sort of abdominal problem. Can this be attributed to some type of erosion of the body caused by too much wear and tear? Not sure anyone knows for sure but I'm guessing so many games in such a short span couldn't be a GOOD thing.

One of the true benefits to this upcoming season is that all players will have the advantage of working out with the athletic trainers as well as receiving medical attention from team physicians.

WW.com: Philadelphia had a strange year, starting off as hot as anyone and then doing a complete 180 in the second half of the season, to now find themselves locked in a tight series with the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. What do you make of their roller-coaster ride and can they knock off the Celtics?

SB: I'm not surprised at the late season success of the 76ers. Not surprised at all.

For the past three years they have been a tremendously athletic team that has improved steadily, and while they still have inconsistencies and shortcomings, they are playing much better collectively and have clearly benefited from listening to their COACH! Doug has done a terrific job there. I've said this for years about coaching in the NBA. It's sixty percent strategy and forty percent psychology. Handling these young ego's is a difficult task and Doug does it as well as anyone in the league. His in your face style sometimes rubs them the wrong way, but such an impressionable group needs that type of mentoring. I believe they've seen how an inspired effort, especially defensively, can lead to great success. Their defense was frenetic against Chicago and I think that same intensity will be a key to them upsetting Boston.

WW.com The Wizards will have a lot of options to choose from with their first pick in the draft and should be aggressive in the free agent market this summer, what position do you think they will look to address to upgrade this team?

SB: Well.... for the past 20 years I've heard fans say, "the Wizards need a big man!" My response is always, what team doesn't? The great ones don't come along too often but Washington got a nice addition in Nene. He CLEARLY gives the Wiz an inside presence they haven't had in years, a big man who can truly operate in the low post. And oh by the way, he showed us a pretty nice outside touch with the jumper didn't he? I think our team (any team) can benefit by getting a scorer. It would be nice if that scorer could play some defense and rebound the ball as well. So my hope is they can acquire (draft or free agency) another strong inside presence. Of course I am anxiously awaiting the return of Kevin Seraphin. He displayed tremendous improvement from his rookie year to last. I spoke with his personal trainer following the final game of the season and he said "we are headed to the gym, wait til you see Kevin at training camp". I'm looking forward to that!

WW.com: Is there a favorite vacation spot that you like to hit every summer or do you like to change it up every year?

SB: Normally the off season does not find me far from sand. Be it a bunker at Bushwood or the beach at Rehoboth, I'm in it! If I can get to an island, even better. Something about a flowery beach and crystal clear water that relaxes me. I don't think I'm alone. Either way, the majority of the summer is spent with family, most all of whom are in the DC area.