“What can change the nature of a game?”
Some of you might have recognized the origin of the broad strokes of this question. You know I’m a gamer, and in 1999 (already 20 years ago! Damn I feel really old) a revolutionary RPG came out for PC thanks to Interplay, trying to exploit the success of Baldur’s Gate in 1998. The name of the game was Planescape: Torment, and while it was kind of a commercial blunder at first (becoming profitable in subsequent years thanks to its cult following and an Enhanced Edition that came out in 2017 at the hands of remastering wizards Beamdog) it quickly became a mainstay in every Top 10 list of games, especially RPGs because of its philosophical depth and extreme care in character arcs. To this day, it’s without a doubt the most literary (in a good sense) game I ever played and it’s responsibile for 33% of the fact that I love the english language.
I won’t spoil it for you if you ever decide to give it a go (and I remember some of you already played it; the others, well I definitely recommend it), but essentially the game goes like this: you die, but you never really die. Everytime you died before the game you lost your memory, and it probably happened a thousand times. The main goal is then to understand who you are (were?), why you ended up like this, and how do you become normal again.
Moving forward on you quest, you discover that some of your previous incarnations left behind some memories, even journals, while others have done everything they could to erase their traces.
At some point, you learn that there were three of these previous incarnations that are important in the game: the Good Incarnation, the Practical Incarnation, the Paranoid Incarnation. More on them later*.
Since I won’t spoil the game for you (even though, well, 20 years…), I’ll just say that the question “What can change the nature of a man?” lingers throughout the whole game and stayed with me for a long, long time. To this day, if you asked me that question, I don’t know what I’d answer.
But, back to us: What can change the nature of a game?
Answer this question, well, I can: having clinched the worst record in the NBA while your opponent might still benefit from losing one here and there.
If you watched this game (and I bet you didn’t, you sane person), you saw how the Wizards did what they could to basically throw the game. Not the players, but well… the coaching staff didn’t exactly send its best units out there again and again. Jeff Green scored 19 in the first half (18 in the second quarter) and never saw any second-half action. Bradley Beal “acted” his way out ot the floor falling around here and there. OAKAAK Chasson Randle shot 11 times at the basket. I mean, Washington competed, but didn’t really… uhm… try its best, you know? And that’s all good and well, especially considering the fact they’re tied for wins with the Mavericks, and the fewer chances for the Mavs to jump in the top five the better for us in the long run.
So, yes, we’re facing a good win. An interesting game culminated in a win, at a time when winning is gladly accepted around here. I don’t think we could have asked for more.
*Writing about those incarnations I couldn’t shake the thought that there’s a bit of them in every savvy, modern Knick fan.
The Good incarnation: hey, we should win every game we can and we’ll be better rooting for every young guy that dons our jersey, even if it’s a sucky French guy who can’t stay on the floor and can’t hit shots (let it be known that I’m still team Frank, even if it makes zero sense).
The Practical incarnation: wait, we’re better off tanking and ditching young guys at their peak trade value. So, yeah, let’s play Knox a lot and then let’s trade him as soon as possible!
The Paranoid incarnation: DOLAN’S RAZOR. MUDIAY IS A RFA. WE’RE GOING TO SIGN BOOGIE.
A few notes about the game:
– Is it a coincidence that Fiz pretty much nailed rotations in the first game in the whole season where a win wouldn’t have mattered at all? Probably so (also, see again: Wizards tanking), but give me all the silver linings you got. It was bizarre: we only went eight deep but everyone contributed and nobody really sucked.
– Is this the end of the Mudiay era? Let’s hope so. The thought hit me in the second quarter, and it immediately lightened me up. I have nothing against Mud as a human being (in fact, I think he probably is a good guy), but I can’t stand watching players in Mud’s mold playing as if team ball isn’t a thing.
– If you paid a bit of attention to how Mario played the point, you knew why Mudiay is a horrible playmaker. Hez tried a lot of times to pass the ball very near the rim, and even if he didn’t record a lot of assists (just 5 tonight), sometimes people didn’t convert the looks, some other times they got fouled, sometimes they passed the ball again outside for an easy look from the perimeter. Hezonja is not a good point guard (how could he be?), but he’s miles better than Mudiay and Ntilikina at this point, and I fear he might continue to be. Good for him that he’s pretty much guaranteeing himself another shot in the NBA with these last games: in the last three, he’s going for 25/10/7 on 53.7 FG%. Hez has long been the meister of the garbage time, but this is just another level. Hope he sticks around for the worst team in the NBA every year. He’s also posting for the first time in the season a positive WS/48! Good things all over.
– DSJ was able to play again, even with a sore back. His game was pretty bad, but every minute he spends on the court it’s a minute that serves as a reminder that we don’t need Mudiay at all. 15 points on 12 shots, 5 assists, 5 turnovers. Very very mediocre.
– Kornet had a great game! 17 points on 11 shots, 4 threes, 4 blocks, 7 boards and a team-high +9 plus/minus. It’s only the 102th time in the history of the NBA that a guy who connects on 4 threes also swats 4 blocks.
– Mitch was his usual self: 11 points, 11 boards, 3 blocks. The streak goes on! The third block especially was beastly, he met a dunk/layup attempt from Randle with fierce authority and corralled the board like it was nothing.
Two to go, and a pretty much guaranteed win against Chicago. Let’s hang tight, guys!