After two days of recovery from a LeBron James game-winner against the Brooklyn Nets Saturday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will return to the court tonight against the Washington Wizards. This is the Cavs' first tango with the Wizards of 2015-2016, and I'm sure we're all very excited to reignite one of the most unsung and one-sided rivalries in the NBA.
The Cavs lost their first game against the Wizards 91-78 last year, and since that game, the Cavs are 75-33 while the Wizards are 50-45 (including playoffs), and the Wizards haven't beaten the Cavs since. Coincidence? Absolutely not. The Cavs clearly used that Wizards loss as a coming together point and have been unleashing a vicious course correction since. They'll try to continue that tonight.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards
When: 7:00PM ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Television: NBA TV
Heathens Who Worship a False Point Gawd: Bullets Forever
Music: Outkast - Y'all Scared
- The Cavs' shooting has been pretty incredible this season. They're second in the league in effective field goal percentage at 52.3 percent, and it's coming in a variety of ways. Per Basketball-Reference, the Cavs have four players shooting over 65 percent inside three feet, four guys who hit above 37.5 percent from three, and Mo Williams is hitting 67.4 percent (!!!!) on long twos this year. This seems important because the Wizards are having a 2014-2015 Toronto Raptors-esque defensive lapse right now, allowing a 51.8 eFG%, good for 24th in the league. I think the Cavs will be able to get baskets tonight.
- The pace battle will be interesting tonight. The Wizards play at the 4th-fastest pace in the league, while the Cavs are the 4th-slowest. The difference here could be turnovers, which Washington is miserable with, averaging 15 TO's per 100 possessions. The Cavs will likely want to dictate the pace of the game towards a more plodding pace, especially when their starters are in, and forcing Washington into turnovers and shifting those into halfcourt sets, especially when John Wall and his bizarre 20.4 percent turnover rate are on the floor, will go a long way to help that.
- Does Cleveland have the advantage in the backcourt tonight? Wall's start to the season has been marred by a 39 percent field goal percentage, that sky-high turnover rate, and the Wizards' defense being a full three points worse with him on the floor. That's coupled with "Future All-Star Bradley Beal," who the Wizards have been 8.9 points better without than with, and, should he play, will be in his first game back after missing the last three with an ankle injury. Gary Neal's out, so that means more minutes for Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple, who are Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple. The sentence I did not think would be applicable so many times in 2015 strikes again: Matthew Dellavedova, Mo Williams, and J.R. Smith have a distinct advantage over this backcourt tonight.
- Also on the injury report for the Wizards: Drew Gooden, with back spasms, and Nene, with a calf strain. Neither practiced yesterday. This is important because it means Kevin Love guarded by Kris Humphries. Repeatedly.
- Pour one out for the homie Martell Webster, maliciously waived yesterday due to his prolonged recovery from recurrent hip issues. Martell has been my favorite Wizard over the past four seasons, even despite that time he torched Dion Waiters in 2013. He's a consummate professional who had a very aesthetically pleasing game, filled in admirably multiple times as a starter while Bradley Beal nursed injuries, and he's one of the best in the NBA at playful locker room antics. His career has been marred by back and hip issues, but Martell is awesome in so many ways. The Wizards cut him in favor of Ryan Hollins. They deserve to lose tonight by 30.
- Looks like all this means Randy Wittman needs to coach em' up and try to do what he can to get this wi...........oh.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction: Cavs by 20, at least. The Wizards are in a bad spot right now, and the Cavs are not the team to try to work that out against. Y'all play the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Just punt and try to get yourselves right then, instead.