Hayes Feeling ‘Giddy’ About Playoff Debut
CLEVELAND, April 21 — It’s doubtful that any player who takes the floor for Game 1 of the Wizards’ first- round playoff series will be more appreciative than guard- forward Jarvis Hayes, who will finally make his playoff debut. Hayes missed the last two playoff runs with right knee injuries and was forced to watch both postseasons while sitting on the bench in a suit.
After the Wizards closed the regular season with a win at Indiana on Wednesday night, Hayes triumphantly held his hands above his head and said, “ I made it to the playoffs!”
In 2004- 05, Hayes was limited to 54 games after fracturing his right kneecap, and last season he went down after 21 games when he re- injured the same knee.
“ I came through the tunnel into the arena and I was looking for that 2007 NBA Playoffs [ logo] on the court,” Hayes said following the team’s practice at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday. “ I was kind of upset because I wanted to walk over it, just experience that feeling. It’s not out here yet but I’ll get to see it [ Sunday]. Excited isn’t even the word to describe how I feel right now. It’s more like giddy.”
Hayes may not feel that way when he opens the game defending LeBron James, but even that prospect hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm. Hayes, who scored in double figures in seven of the last nine regular season games, made the most of the extra minutes that came with injuries to Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.
After struggling to establish consistency with his shot all season, Hayes raised his scoring average to 12.1 points per game in April while shooting 45.9 percent overall and 45.5 percent from three- point range.
Hayes won’t be the only Wizard getting a taste of the playoffs for the first time. Second- year forward Andray Blatche and guard Roger Mason will make their debuts while second- year guard Donell Taylor played only three minutes in last spring’s first- round series against Cleveland.
Also, forward Darius Songaila sat out last season’s playoffs as a member of the Chicago Bulls with a fractured right foot. Songaila did appear in 12 playoff games with the Sacramento Kings in 2004 and 2005.
“ These young guys, there’s no time for the deer- in- the- headlights stuff and I don’t expect that to happen,” said forward Antawn Jamison, who has appeared in 21 playoff games.
James Is Mum
Cleveland’s LeBron James, looking somewhat like a cast member on the television series “ Entourage” in his Yankees cap and dark sunglasses, walked out of the building after practice Saturday without talking with reporters.
“ You know I don’t talk [ at] shoot- arounds,” James said.