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Game preview: Wizards vs. Cavs…or Irving vs. Wall?

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Washington (3-7) at Cleveland (4-7)

November 20, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan

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Projected starting lineups:

Washington Wizards
C- Marcin Gortat, PF- Nene, SF- Martell Webster, SG- Bradley Beal, PG- John Wall

Cleveland Cavaliers
C – Anderson Varejao, PF- Tristan Thompson, SF- Earl Clark, SG- C.J. Miles, PG- Kyrie Irving

Key matchup:

John Wall v. Kyrie Irving, Part II

John Wall, Kyrie Irving

John Wall was asked by a reporter after the Cleveland game how he felt considering they lost the game in addition to losing the “1-on-1” battle. Although John Wall delivered a very respectful and poised answer, you could see him pause for a moment while absorbing what he had just been asked. Kyrie had 41 points while Wall had 9 points and double-digit assists. Wall did what a point guard does for his team early on. He distributed the ball and he was actually directly responsible for the Wizards’ first 16-20 points that night. Wall provided the Wizards with a double-digit cushion by penetrating into the lane and converting on some of the prettiest lay-ins you’ll see this side of the Atlantic, or he was making pin-point passes to shooters in the corners that were timed so perfectly that they could launch without hesitation.

Eventually, that lead dwindled and Kyrie Irving got hot and did what a point guard does for his team. By the time Wall was re-inserted into the game in 2nd quarter, Cleveland stole the momentum and cut the lead to five at halftime. Irving set up the offense masterfully in the 2nd half and beyond, and put himself in great positions to score while balancing the offense perfectly. By the time Wall was re-inserted into the game in 2nd quarter, Cleveland stole the momentum and cut the lead to 5 at halftime. Now that the idea of a “1-on-1” battle was reinstilled in his head after the last game, I am curious how aggressive John Wall will come out in trying to win the game in addition to boosting his statline.

Spotlight:

Bradley-Beal

Bradley B3AL. After Beal was playing extremely timid early in the T’Wolves game, Twitter was booming with statements regarding Beal’s lack of confidence and inability to get good shots for himself. I, for one, was one of them. Beal was constantly settling for long jumpers coming off of screens that were so transparent that he was even blocked twice on one possession. It’s as if Beal wasn’t reading the defense but was playing like he was in an empty gym. What happened a few minutes later after a timeout? Beal came out on fire and put together 3-4 beautiful consecutive possessions that ended with the basketball net whipped back into the cylinder. He finished the game with 25 points and the Wizards got their first win in a long time. Which brings me to my next point…

Bradley Beal is the real deal. Any talk last night of him losing his confidence was premature and unfounded. Beal is a shooter. He is going to shoot from all areas of the floor and sometimes he will have poor shooting nights. However, he is only going to get better every year. Those poor shooting nights are just a result of probability. Any mental mistakes he makes won’t last long before he readjusts to the game. Beal is confident in every shot he takes and I’m sure he has practiced hard enough to back that confidence up. He’s made a leap that a lot of players don’t take until their 3rd and 4th year. He’s already deflected blame from his coach and said it is up to the players to take responsibility for their play. Although I disagree with him deflecting the blame from the coaching in a sense that Wittman does deserve some, the mature and self-reflective response was wise beyond its years. Bottom line, if Beal misses shots it won’t stop him from shooting more. Bottom line, if the Wizards are struggling you can count on a guy like Beal to be a leader and be proactive in resolving it.

The X-factor:

Bench points. Vesely has stepped his game up in a sense that the fans aren’t cringing anytime he checks into the game. He brings a predictable sense of energy and effort to the team that was not there before. Ariza is questionable for this game, but if Martell starts in his place and Ariza does come off the bench it could help the Wizards from long-distance, or vice versa.

Eric Maynor has been on a short leash lately if he is even allowed outside of the dog-house, meaning Garrett Temple needs to be effective in the minutes that he gets. Last time around, the Wizards let the Cavs beat them with Kyrie and his 41 piece and contributions from the bench. This time, they will look to send doubles at Kyrie to get the ball out of his hands, forcing the other Cavs to beat them. The Cavs bench outscored the Wizards bench 22-9 last game, as the Cavs average 30 bench points a game this year. Matthew Dellavedova played the entire 4th quarter and overtime for the Cavs, and the Wizards walked out with an L. No bueno. They need to take advantage of that.

What happened last time they played?

Seriously? It was like four days ago. Kyrie + defense from Wizards other than John Wall = 41. Wizards with big lead – John Wall in spurts + weird lineup rotations = Wizards overtime/Wizards loss.

Who’s hurt?

Trevor Ariza is questionable for this game. His behavior in the R. Kelly impersonation video is just questionable.

Outlook:

Every time I say the Wizards are going to get crushed (like against Minnesota), they come out and win. When I say they are going to come out and win because they have favorable matchups, they somehow find a way to choke the game away. Beyond being superstitious and making my prediction based on recent trends, there are a few factors that do bother me but might not mean much at all. The Wizards were coming off of a few days of rest before they took on Cleveland at home on Saturday, and they still lost. This time around, the Wizards are coming into the second game of a back to back, and the Cavaliers haven’t played a game since Saturday. Who did they play last Saturday? The Wizards. They have had a few days of rest and haven’t had to adjust to another opponent since that game. Even though the Wizards lost last week coming off of a few days of rest, the Cavaliers coming off of rest after just facing Washington and Washington being on a back to back does not bode well for them. Since that points to a Cavaliers victory, I am going to say the Wizards take this one by 10. Wall with the double-double and Beal puts up the 30 piece. Irving has 6 points and 11 turnovers, leaves the game early with a broken heart.

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