The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't won back to back games in forever. Tonight against the Wizards, they will try to do just that.
Anderson Varejao is still out. Shaun Livingston has joined the Cavaliers. And Donald Sloan got waived. Lots of really earth-shattering news. Despite all of that, the Cavs will try to win back-to-back games for the first time since March 7th-11th when they won three games in a row against the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Denver Nuggets.
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where? Verizon Center -- Washington, DC
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass (I swear someday, the Cavs will play a nationally televised game and this section will be useful to you)
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets
Enemy/brother blog? Bullets Forever
The line? Washington -1.0
I'm honestly pretty shocked that the Cavaliers are considered the underdog in this game. The Wizards are legitimately awful and the Cavaliers have been able to compete with some solid teams all year. Plus, Cleveland has Kyrie Irving. I guess there's something to be said for the absence of Anderson Varejao, who will be out once again with a right knee contusion. Whatevs.
You might think that the Cavaliers would be rusty in a road game the day after Christmas, but they practiced the past two days and flew out of Cleveland last night. Byron Scott seemed happy with the team's level of focus and anything other than a win tonight against the Wizards is going to be a disappointment. As I mentioned before, the Cavs waived Donald Sloan and signed Shaun Livingston, but it doesn't look like Livingston will play tonight. He hasn't been with the team long enough and I assume Byron will ease him into the backup point guard role. Tonight, the Cavs will probably turn to Jeremy Pargo for those 10-12 minutes.
Tristan Thompson has been very solid since Andy got hurt and I hope that continues tonight. He has shown patience and control when attacking on offense and has played his usual disciplined defense. Nene is a solid offensive and defensive player, so it would be wise for the Cavs to match Tristan up with him. Tyler Zeller probably would have a hard time with Nene. Speaking of Tyler, we're going to keep emphasizing the same things until we see it consistently from him. We want Zeller playing more in the post, along with doing all of his normal things. We know he can run the floor and we know he can knock down that midrange jumper. I just want him to do those things with purpose and without hesitation. You can tell that he's getting more and more used to playing in the NBA with every game. It's fun to see these young guys start to really get it.
Speaking of young guys, Dion Waiters is coming off his first efficient scoring game in a long while. He seems to be picking his spots a little better recently and has started to ease up on the "heat-check" threes after he makes a few buckets in a row. In a recent interview on Cavs.com, Byron Scott said that he was encouraging Waiters to work on that midrange pull up jumper. Normally, you don't think that's something that a coach would encourage. But he claimed that if he's able to create space and shoot it in rhythm, then it's a good shot. With Dion's ability to drive past people, it would probably be a nice weapon to develop. If defenders had to account for his ability to stop on a dime and nail that 15 footer, it would open up more lanes for him to attack.
That's all I really have to say about this game. It should be nice to see what Bradley Beal can do this time against Cleveland. In their first meeting on opening night, Waiters pretty thoroughly outplayed his fellow rookie. I have to figure that Beal will try to outplay his counterpart tonight.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
Cavaliers upset (?) the Wizards and roll to a 103-90 win.