How will the Cleveland Cavaliers respond to their first loss of the season? That is the question being asked as the team heads into it’s matchup Friday against the Washington Wizards. The Cavs lost to the Hawks for a multitude of reasons, but ultimately the bad habits and coasting caught up to the team as they were unable to pull off the late rally. Will the team coast to the same degree? Will they try and put the Wizards away early, rather than letting them hang around?
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (6-1) at Washington Wizards (2-5)
When? 7:00 PM
Where? Verizon Center
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
I’d be lying if I said part of me didn’t miss when the Cavs and Wizards were fierce rivals. Whether it be in playoff series, or in rebuilding efforts around star players. The fortunes have changed in recent years, as one team had it’s hometown superstar sign and deliver a title, while the other landed Markieff Morris. But the head to head matchup still at least carries the headline of two of the league’s best point guards going head to head.
Beyond the aforementioned question of how the Cavs approach the game, the matchup of Kyrie Irving and John Wall will be one of the main things people key into going into the night. It should be noted that, at least historically, the two don’t often guard one another on the defensive end of the floor. Irving’s defensive concerns are well documented and putting a larger wing on Wall can help stifle Washington’s lone way of generating offense. While on the other hand, Wall using up energy defending Irving isn’t really productive. Irving has a career TS% of 59.8 against Washington, better than his career average of 55.5. With Wall on the court last season, Irving shot 47.6 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three. Elite offensive point guards typically require larger players, like a small forward, on them if you’re going to have any chance of slowing them down. It’s a team effort to stop great point guards, so if you’re Wall, you’re better off saving your energy for offense.
Washington was picked by many to have a bounce back season. While that is still well within the realm of possibilities, the season couldn’t be off to a worse start. They are 2-5 and Wall has been ejected in back to back games. On the bright side, Otto Porter broke out on Wednesday night with a dominant game on both ends of the court. Pouring in 34 points as the Wizards routed the Boston Celtics. With the Wizards looking to build off that game and make a statement, combined with the Cavs looking to bounce back from their first loss, the ingredients in place for an exciting game.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Preview:
How close this game is will come down to execution for the Cavs. While the Cavs own the second best turnover rate in the league, many of their mistakes seem to come from unforced errors. Missed passes based off miscommunication as they implement their new schemes. They are only 20th in field goal percentage, yet lead the league with a 110.6 offensive efficiency. It feels like the team has a lot of room to improve, but the results in the meantime have been excellent. If the Cavs can take care of the ball and knockdown their open shots, they should handle the Wizards with relative ease. Cavs win 115-102.