Oh boy, where do we even begin with this one? Just two months ago the Wiz came into town boasting a 2-1 record while the Cavs had limped to a 2-2 start, and the confidence of Wizards fans was through the roof. Of course, the Cavaliers came away with 102-90 victory that night and really haven’t looked back. For the Wiz, their journey to this point in time has been completely different. I’m not going to get into the Arenas situation and the fact that everyone on the team is now trade bait, other than just to say I’m thankful right now to follow the Cavaliers and not the Wizards.
Tonight’s game is one of those ones where perhaps the Wizards will band together, bonded by their recent controversies, their uncertain future status, and their hatred of the Cavaliers to create an Us vs World mentality. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers will make their first attempt to adjusting to life without Jamario Moon tonight. Regardless of all the subplots involved in this matchup, I still expect to see a quality game tonight. After all, the Cavaliers will be wearing their CavFanatic 80s style uniforms with the Wine and Gold colors. With uniforms like these, how can they lose?
(Update: Arenas has in fact been suspended indefinitely, deemed “unfit” to play in the NBA. )
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Gilbert Arenas (22.6 ppg, 7.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 18.88 PER)
-G Randy Foye (7.4 ppg, 1.5 apg, .389 3P%, 12.17 PER)
-F Caron Butler (16.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 14.04 PER)
-F Antawn Jamison (21.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.3 spg, 19.25 PER)
-C Brendan Haywood (9.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 14.97 PER)
Key Reserves: Andray Blatche, Mike James, Earl Boykins, Nick Young, DeShawn Stevenson, Fabricio Oberto
Injuries: Mike Miller (out)
-G Mo Williams (17.6 ppg, 5.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 17.56 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (7.1 ppg, 1.8 apg, .458 3P%, 9.54 PER)
-F LeBron James (28.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 7.8 apg, 30.58 PER)
-F JJ Hickson (6.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 12.76 PER)
-C Shaquille O’Neal (10.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 15.51 PER)
Key Reserves: Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson
Injuries: Jamario Moon (out), Leon Powe (out)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (99.1 ppg, 42.4 rpg, .444 FG%, 18.5 apg, 14.6 TOpg, Eff-101.6, Rank-23)
-Def (102.5 ppg, 43.7 rpg, .451 FG%, Eff-105.3, Rank-20)
-Off (100.0 ppg, 42.1 rpg, .480 FG%, 21.3 apg, 14.4 TOpg, Eff-107.3, Rank-6)
-Def (93.5 ppg, 38.6 rpg, .432 FG%, Eff-99.4, Rank-4)
These two teams have a lot of history, and the home team seems to generally be the one to take care of business, similar to the Cavs-Celtics series. So it was that the Cavaliers handily defeated Washington at home in November and the Wizards then returned the favor later that month, pounding the Cavaliers in DC. So with that in mind, I’m glad this game is at home.
The big thing to look for is if the Cavaliers can get some help from their support system. Not just the 2nd unit, but it’s time for Parker and Hickson to start pulling their weight as well. Jamison is a quality defender, but Hickson has the edge in quickness and athleticism. We’ll see if he’s learned enough yet to find a way to contribute against Jamison. In the 2 previous games he’s played horribly. As for Parker, he’ll be going up against Foye. AP has about a 2 inch height advantage, but Foye is no slouch physically and it could be a tough matchup for AP. Just like Hickson, Parker has also played 2 terrible games against Washington. One of those 2 needs to snap out of it and start making a difference.
It would be foolish to think that just because the Wiz are going through some external turmoil that these guys no longer have the heart to play. They beat the Sixers in Philly just last night, and if Gilbert is a distraction, that’s news to everyone involved. Arenas put up 19 pts and 14 assists while Jamison notched 32 pts and 14 rebounds. They got 21 pts off the bench from Nick Young and 32 bench pts all together.
The moral of the story is the Cavaliers better not just expect the Wiz to roll over and die. This team has fight in them. You know LeBron and Mo will show up to play, the question will be who will join them. The Cavaliers can try to use their size to exploit Washington inside. If they’re successful at that, it will open up open shots from the outside. The Wizards are 26th in opponent points from 3 pointers, so they will give you open shots if you work for them. This is further reason why Daniel Gibson better be getting some major minutes in this game.
From The Outside Looking In
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Friday, January 8, 2010
10:30 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Denver Nuggets