Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (4-7) vs. Washington Wizards (3-7)
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
When: 7:00 ET
Where to watch: Fox Sports Ohio, or NBA League Pass
In truth, this has always been one of my favorite songs, featured in one of my favorite movies. Worth watching for the 80's absurdity on its own.
The Cavaliers are 3-1 at home and welcome a Washington Wizards team that is 1-5 on the road. The Wizards played a close game last night got a victory. The Cavaliers haven't played since Saturday night and have had plenty of rest and vital practice time. Andrew Bynum and Dion Waiters should be ready to go. Only Carrick Felix is missing, which is to say, there is nothing missing (sorry NDK).
And yet, this isn't a team that I am willing to sit down expecting a win from just yet. Sam did a nice job yesterday explaining some of the reasons why this team looks so bad offensively. The Cavaliers got a great effort from Kyrie Irving the other night, and needed every bit of it to get the win. It was reminiscent of last February as Irving was blowing up. Yeah, the Cavs offense was pretty good, and yeah, the Cavaliers were winning some games, but how sustainable is it when you need 35 points a game from Irving?
The Cavs have gotten bad shooting from a number of players from a number of different places on the floor. Jarrett Jack will improve, Kyrie Irving will improve, Dion Waiters will get better around the rim. We just don't really know when. I wrote last February that the Cavaliers were in a sort of limbo while we figure out if the Cavs have a second scoring option next to Irving or still need to find one. In the meantime, there are no sure wins.
This game should be really fun, though. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters will see time against John Wall and Brad Beal, even if Waiters has been bumped from the starting lineup. A few words about that: I don't think it is a big deal. It happened last year, and Waiters handled it just fine and was back in the starting lineup in a short amount of time. If I had to guess, Brown wants Miles on the floor for spacing and because of a few defensive lapses off the ball that Waiters seems to find himself committing three or four times a night.
Now, the arguments against this that I hear or anticipate are 1) you are going to punish Waiters for defensive miscues while Irving gets to keep playing? and 2) Waiters is a really good spot up shooter! The answer to the first question is simply, yes, Irving does and is asked to do much more than Waiters offensively, and so what he is asked for defensively is not as much. This is because Irving historically has been more efficient than Waiters. And, Irving was a better defender than Waiters last year, and while he still takes possessions off, he doesn't seem to leave his man like Waiters does for as many open shots or easy buckets. These are my eyes, maybe I am wrong, but that's what I see.
For the second one, it's true. Waiters is a good spot-up shooter. I would like him to both work on understanding spacing so he can spot up more, and for Irving to do a better job of looking for him. Still, on the whole, in a large sample size, Miles was a much better shooter from distance than Waiters was. Either way, Waiters is going to get a lot of time on the court, hopefully next to Irving. And hopefully he continues to commit himself to defense and work on improving his off-ball game. If there is a game for him to improve his percentages at the rim, it would be this one, with Marcin Gortat providing token resistance in the paint.
Other random thoughts
- Bynum back! Hopefully he can play about 20 minutes and start to shake off some rust. If he can be a credible offensive force, this team will win some more games.
- Anderson Varejao played a LOT of minutes the other night against the Wizards, and looked pretty tired by the end of it. Hopefully the Cavs don't need to rely on him so much moving forward.
- Anthony Bennett might be out of the rotation. I have no idea what to think of this. Sam thinks it's good. Conrad doesn't. Is he healthy? I don't know. He is missing wide open jump shots on pick and pops and can't create for himself right now, from the post or elsewhere. That's all I can tell you.
- If nothing else, the Cavaliers defense has been really great this year. Hope it isn't a mirage, don't think it is.
Fearless prediction: The Cavaliers win and ugly and wild one, Tristan Thompson put back on a Dion Waiters miss with the score tied. 89-87 Cavs.