David Griffin, you are on the clock. The trade deadline is two weeks away and the Cavs season has collapsed. Sitting at 16-33, playoff dreams don't feel like a reality. Barring an unlikely run that pushes the team back into playoff contention, the rest of the season is a mix of fighting for draft position and evaluating what players are going to be a part of the solution, and which ones need to go.
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Where on my eyeballs: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
The Washington Wizards
are average. They are so average it hurts. At least, that's the impression that I get from the Wizards fans I know and follow on twitter. They have hovered around .500 for basically the entire season. Still, they seem to be moving in the right direction. John Wall has been fantastic, and Brad Beal has largely improved despite being plagued by nagging injuries and the usual inconsistency you expect from 20 year old guards.
When the Wizards win, they win with defense. The Wizards lost Emeka Okafor to injury and then swapped him with Marcin Gortat, a major defensive downgrade, and still have the 8th best defensive rating in the NBA. Randy Wittman, if nothing else, has Washington defending at a high level with a system that works.
Helping matters has been the excellent all around play of Trevor Ariza. Yes, that Ariza. He has been fantastic all year and next to Wesley Matthews might be as good of a 3 and D wing as there has been in the NBA this season. A high volume 3 point shooter, his true shooting percentage is approaching 58%. He, along with Martell Webster, have done a great job defending the perimeter all year.
Still, the Wizards struggle to score consistently. The bench has been disappointing and Beal inconsistent. Nene's minutes have fluctuated due to injury concerns as well. The East being what it is, their .500 record would get them the 5 seed if the playoffs started today. The Wizards are 8-5 in their 13 games, with two of the games lost going to overtime. This is a team that feels like they might be ready to put together an extended stretch of good play. Hopefully it doesn't keep going tonight.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
are in a lot of trouble. Kyrie Irving is sick and is questionable for tonight's game. The narrative will be really fun if Kyrie Irving misses the game and the Cavaliers win. Except that it won't be.
Anthony Bennett has gotten some positive press lately, and it seems that he is developing a bit. He is a talented guy. How talented, I don't think anyone knows. Once he starts making some jump shots hopefully we can start to really analyze other parts of his game and what he needs to learn. I have seen a lot of calls for Bennett to step into the starting spot. I find this pretty absurd. Didn't we learn that we pressed too much on this kid too fast? Bennett should be playing a minimum of 20 minutes a night. Why ask him to do more when he clearly isn't ready for it?
Aside from this, I just want the Cavs to play hard. The defense has really cratered in the last few weeks. No excuse for it. The Wizards aren't a team that should score 110 points against you. I have this weird worry that they will tonight.
Fear the Sword's fearless prediction: Cavs are weird, win 97-95. Fun Dion Waiters game.