Cleveland Cavaliers (61-13) vs
Washington Wizards (17-58)
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Thursday, April 2, 2009
8:00 PM EST
Here we go again. Another game where Washington fans can get all excited and worked up and refer to LeBron as “LeBaby” and blah blah blah. I for one, as always, am so sick of this fake “rivalry”. But regardless, it is evidently important to Washington fans, so let them have their fun. One thing that’s certain is that the Cavaliers will unquestionably get the Wizards’ best shot on the court tonight, and with a brutal game in Orlando tomorrow night, this is a game the Cavaliers could easily overlook and take for granted. That would be a huge mistake, though. It was the Washington game on Christmas night that first signaled the end of the Cavaliers impressive tear through November and December and marked the beginning of the middle stretch of the season where the Cavaliers would start to struggle to beat teams. It was just a week and a half after that game that the Wizards did indeed beat the Cavaliers on this very court, so LeBron and company need to be ready for this one.
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Mo Williams (18.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 17.20 PER)
-G Delonte West (11.5 ppg, 3.6 apg, .392 3P%, 14.18 PER)
-F LeBron James (28.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.3 apg, 31.59 PER)
-F Anderson Varejao (8.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 14.52 PER)
-C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (13.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 18.56 PER)
Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, Sasha Pavlovic
Injuries: Ben Wallace (out), Eric Snow (out)
-G Javaris Crittenton (4.8 ppg, 2.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 10.33 PER)
-G Dominic McGuire (4.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 11.00 PER)
-F Caron Butler (20.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 18.44 PER)
-F Antawn Jamison (22.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.3 bpg, 20.75 PER)
-C Andray Blatche (10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 15.13 PER)
Key Reserves: Brendan Haywood, Nick Young, Darius Songalia, JaVale McGee
Injuries: Gilbert Arenas (day-to-day), Juan Dixon (day-to-day), Mike James (out), DeShawn Stevenson (out), Etan Thomas (out)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (100.0 ppg, 42.1 rpg, .468 FG%, .755 FT%, 20.2 apg, Eff-109.3, Rank-4)
-Def (90.7 ppg, 39.0 rpg, .428 FG%, Eff-98.7, Rank-1)
-Off (95.6 ppg, 39.9 rpg, .447 FG%, .767 FT%, 20.1 apg, Eff-102.0, Rank-26)
-Def (103.3 ppg, 41.7 rpg, .483 FG%, Eff-111.3, Rank-29)
This may sound lazy, but so be it. If the Cavaliers move the ball, they’re going to win this game. The Wizards are just about the worst defensive team in the NBA, and offensively they are marginal at best. It will be interesting to see if Gilbert Arenas plays again tonight (something tells me he won’t miss a chance to play against LeBron and the Cavs in the Verizon Center), but that’s about the only thing intriguing about this matchup.
For the Cavaliers, we’ll be watching to see if Wally Szczerbiak can begin to get his legs under him again, and if Boobie and Delonte can continue to get their long distance shots back on track. But with the injuries the Wizards have faced, they really seem to lack the depth to beat the Cavaliers. They did beat them once by holding the Cavs to just 77 points, an inexplicable feat for such a horrendous defensive team, but it’s hard to imagine them doing it again tonight.
And for all those reasons, the Wizards will probably win tonight. You’re always worried about any game that means dramatically more to one team than the other. For the Cavaliers, the Wizards are just another team. But if the Wizards’ players share the same mentality as the Wizards bloggers, than this game means something more to them. Hopefully the Cavaliers can actually show up to play Washington this season and not repeat the two lackluster performances they have put forth against them so far this season.
We’d also like to remind you folks in the DC area that there is a WFNY meetup from 5-7:30 before the game at RFD (http://www.lovethebeer.com/rfd.html) on 7th Street NW, a block north of the Verizon Center. If you can make it out, join Denny and other area Cleveland fans to talk sports, Ohio, weather, beer, or whatever you want to discuss. Denny will be arriving around 5 PM and will be at the front bar which is to the left. He’ll be updating his Twitter (http://twitter.com/dennymayo) to reflect his arrival if you really need updates.
From The Outside Looking In
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Friday, April 3, 2009
8:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic