In the final game of a four-game homestand, the Cavs host a Wizards team that has John Wall back and is fighting for positioning at the bottom half of the Eastern Conference. Plus, this could serve as a first round playoff preview between two teams that don’t really like each other.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: Bullets Forever
Cavaliers injuries: George Hill (TBD - ankle sprain)
Wizards injuries: None
Three keys to the game
- With this being Tyronn Lue’s first game back, how will he feel after coaching? Tactically, will he do anything different than Larry Drew? Will he start Jeff Green or Larry Nance Jr.? Drew has said he’s talked to Lue about the decisions the team has made during Lue’s absence, and this game figures to offer some insight into how true that is, as well as offer a tease as to what Lue’s vision for this team is down the stretch.
- Kevin Love should be key in taking down the Wizards, but who he shares the frontcourt with will be an interesting trend to watch. If Green starts, Love will have to guard Marcin Gortat at the five spot and take on that physical challenge from the opening tip. If he’s paired with Nance Jr., he’ll likely defend Markieff Morris, who can handle the ball and plays on the perimeter, but isn’t too quick for Love. Additionally, will Lue deploy Love in moments where James sits, particularly at the start of the fourth quarter when James always rests for a few minutes and against Wizards small ball lineups? This definitely feels like a game where Love could have a big night.
- The 76ers beat the Pistons on Tuesday night, so the Cavs are now tied with the 76ers record wise for the No. 3 seed. With Philadelphia having Thursday off, Cleveland has an opportunity to take a half-game lead into Friday’s game against the 76ers with a win against Washington.
The Wizards, as always, are driven by John Wall and Bradley Beal. Without George Hill, the Cavs’ best defender at either guard spot, it puts a lot of pressure on Jose Calderon to battle Wall and on Rodney Hood to defend Beal. Good defense at the guard spots will go along way to making this an easy night of work for the Cavs.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Wizards are coming off a loss to the Rockets and have lost six of their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Cavs are winners of nine of their last 10 and should get an emotional boost from Lue’s return. Cavs 115, Wizards 103.