home 2015-16, Blogs, Game Coverage Wizards at Cavs Pregame: Take The Lane; Take The Game

Wizards at Cavs Pregame: Take The Lane; Take The Game

5671_washington_wizards-primary-2016

Regular Season Game 61

Wizards (30-30) at Cavs (42-17)

March 4, 2016 at 8:00 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

February 28, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington: Wizards 113, Cavs 99
RECAP: Wizards Get Brawny Against Bron-Less Cavs


What to watch

A mid-late-season litmus test.

Okay, so the past few games for the Wizards have been super cool. They’ve won 4 straight, albeit against the Sixers twice, the Timberwolves, and a Cavs team who rested LeBron. Still, when the season has been as underwhelming as it’s been, success at any rate helps minimize distress and keeps momentum surging. That is the state the Wizards are in presently as they face the Cavs for the second time in a week.

Tonight’s game kicks off a much more challenging stretch of games than the Wizards have experienced since the All-Star break. It is the front end of another back-to-back, with the 7th seeded Pacers flying in tomorrow. The Wizards will then pack their carry-on’s for a short western road trip next week.

There are plenty of playoff implications for the Wizards this weekend. A win tonight against the top-seeded Cavs in Cleveland on national television with LeBron on the floor could spike up their mojo in the Eastern Conference. Beating Indiana tomorrow will could bring them as close as a half-game from replacing them at the 7 seed.

Takeaway: this weekend is pretty important.


Key Matchup

The District of Columbia vs. LeBron James

Real quick, though – anytime we talk about LeBron versus the Wizards, this Vine of Wall obliterating him with a block becomes instantly relevant. Let’s pause a few seconds to watch it.

Thank you. Let’s move on.

Shutting down LeBron James completely is not a very rational thought. His size, strength, and physicality make him a Tonka truck among Micro Machines, especially if he’s getting a running start downhill. But when you cut off LeBron’s path to the rim, and you CAN cut off LeBron’s path to the rim, he becomes a pretty boring player to watch. Normally, when the lane is sealed off by the defense, he’s forced to settle for a jumper, and, well, we all remember how bad he shoots from any range outside the paint.

When the Wizards beat the Cavs back on December 1st in Cleveland, they did so by refusing to allow LeBron to impose his brutality. This was accomplished with some extreme lagging and cushioning by LeBron’s defenders, and solid help defense from bigs underneath the rim. LeBron missed 12 of 20 shots that night, including all three of his 3’s, and committed 9 turnovers. Still, his strength drew him plenty fouls (he was 9-9 from the line), and allowed him to grab 13 rebounds.

Takeaway: Take the lane from LeBron, and you’ll take the game from the Cavs.


X-factor

Alan Anderson

Anderson’s initiation into the lineup was sorely coveted while he was injured and we are beginning to understand why. Up until Anderson’s return, the Wizards had been relying on a guy like Gary Neal or one of those elusive nights where Garrett Temple hit four 3’s to accommodate some extra scoring. Anderson looks to fill that void and provide a more concrete threat offensively, especially knowing the way he performed in the playoffs last year.

This little 1-2 punch the Wizards got going on at the shooting guard position could really shape into something lethal come playoff time. Anderson had his best game as a Wizard on Wednesday in Minnesota, scoring 18 points on 4-7 shooting from 3 in just 21 minutes, dearly complimenting Beal’s 26 point performance. Both of them came off the bench.

Takeaway: all in all, it’s safe to say I much more enjoy Alan Anderson making 3’s than I do him celebrating 3’s.


Fun Factor:

I know they’re winning, but post-David Blatt the Cavs are still a joke.

Yes, they’ve won 42 games and yes they are the top seed in the East. But LeBron James is a bad leader and is making a mess out of what seemingly should be a happy situation.

Earlier this week, rumors were tossed around that Kyrie Irving wasn’t happy in Cleveland. Kyrie obviously denied the claims and not much more was made of it thereafter. While the Cavs had a few days off this week, LeBron flew to Miami to work out with his BFF and soulmate and former championship teammate Dwyane Wade. That’s cool also. But then he would tweet what seemed to be a subtweet and subtle shot at Kyrie thereafter, and that just re-solidifies him as the dick he really is and always has been:

What also cracks me up about the Cavs is their resting of players. What kind of bothers me about the Cavs is their resting of players specifically against the Wizards. Last Sunday, the Cavs opted to rest LeBron in DC and the Wizards destroyed them. Tonight, the Cavs are reportedly resting Kevin Love.

Regardless of the reason why the Cavs specifically rest players against the Wizards (if, really, any reason at all), it’ll work in our favor if John Wall takes it personal, which he should.


Prediction

Kevin Love takes his beauty rest. John Wall takes it personal. The Wizards take the lane from Lebron; take the game from the Cavs.

we are Hoop District

%d bloggers like this: