home 2014-15, Blogs, Game Coverage Wizards vs. Cavs Game Preview: A rivalry rekindled

Wizards vs. Cavs Game Preview: A rivalry rekindled


Cleveland at Washington

November 21, 2014 at 7:00PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSNWashington
Radio: 99.1FM

Tale of the Tape

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]CAVS[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]7-3[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]TEAM RECORD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]5-5[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]99.0[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (own)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]105.0[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]97.3[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (opp)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]103.1[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Lost 1[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]W/L STREAK[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost 2[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Lost vs. Dallas 105-102[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PREVIOUS GAME[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost vs. San Antonio 92-90[/ezcol_1third_end]

Projected Starting Lineups

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]CAVS[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]John Wall[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]POINT GUARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Kyrie Irving[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Garrett Temple[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]SHOOTING GUARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]LeBron James[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Paul Pierce[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]SMALL FORWARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Shawn Marion[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Nene[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]POWER FORWARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Kevin Love[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Marcin Gortat[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]CENTER[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Anderson Varejao[/ezcol_1third_end]

Last time they met was..

Irrelevant. This is a completely different team in Cleveland. It’d probably be best to show highlights from 2013-2014 Cavs, Wolves, and Heat games from last year because the Wiz will have to have a unique approach to guarding this team. Although Kevin Love has been in a funk, he’s another player the Wizards can not leave open from downtown (See, Dirk Nowitzki). We all saw the miniseries titled “Exploitations of the Wizards defense” starring Kyrie Irving. Lebron’s roots of torturing this franchise go back to when Paul Pierce was a ring-less Celtic.

However, my editor will kill me if I don’t actually tell you when the “last time they met was” so let me fill you in. The Wizards took the W on the road 96-83. Wall had a game high of 21 points. This game was the last of the season series and the road team winning every contest. The Cavaliers played this game without Anderson Varejao and C.J. Miles. Now they’ll have Lebron James and Kevin Love. Oh, and Anderson Varejao. Yay.

“It always brings back memories, going into that building. For sure. And we had some really, really great playoff series, some really, really great playoff games in that building — not only in that building but ours as well. So it’s always fun competing against them.” — LeBron James

This is a playoff game. In November. We won’t learn a whole lot about this Cavaliers team because they are still trying to find themselves. Kevin Love is still figuring out his role in the offense. Lebron is still working on when to be aggressive or when to distribute. The Wizards however, are beyond excuses. They have a healthy lineup that’s played together for long enough and even had a long playoff run. It’s not like this is a rivalry or anything. The Wizards have the best backcourt in the league and the Cavs haven’t made the playoffs in how long? Wizards by 5.

Now if Bradley Beal hits a three and does this tonight the Verizon Center might explode.


The Spotlight: Gortat vs. Love


Kevin Love hasn’t scored more than 13 points in three of the last four Cavaliers games.

What does that mean?

Either he stays in his slump and gives the Wizards an advantage on paper or he has his coming out party.

Marcin Gortat has played solid thus far and could impose some of his physicality on a player in Love who’s been criticized for his defense, or lack thereof. David Blatt has made headlines by saying they need to get Kevin Love more involved in the offense. Naturally, he has to say that considering rumors of Kevin Love bolting for L.A. have also came out this past month. Love has taken blame naturally for some of the Cavaliers woes in recent losses because he is part of a “Big 3” and is counted on to hold his own. Whether Blatt makes tonight the “Kevin Love game” by going down any and every avenue to get him to put up 25 points remains to be seen.

However – it could be the best game to do it in. Gortat is a stout post defender, but struggles to guard big guys on the move. Kevin Love can play in the post, screen and roll, and hoist it from the arc with a snipers precision and accuracy. Gortat will have his hands full. Seeing Gortat try to grab rebounds over a sea of three to four Mavs players, including Tyson Chandler was painful to watch. He will have another test tonight against a player in Love who is considered to be a rebounding machine. Gortat needs to work Love early and often to tire him out. Kevin Love is shooting 39% from the field and his shooting could stay on that course if he finds himself expending most of his energy trying to deal with Gortat’s physicality.

John Wall confirms Wiz-Cavs rivalry is real.

When Bradley Beal affirmed on Media Day that he and John Wall make the league’s best backcourt, it took very little time thereafter for his statement to reach northern Ohio. Cavaliers *back-up* shooting guard Dion Waiters laughably had the nerve to offer his retort and claim Beal’s affirmation as “nonsense”.

Well, we relayed Dion’s response to John Wall, who promptly destroyed him. Verbally.

Who’s Out?

Wizards: Martell Webster.

Cavs: None.

Three areas of focus

  • Scoring fast-break points and limiting those same opportunities for the Cavaliers.

The Wizards did a great job of getting out in transition and outscoring the Mavericks in that regard, however they they still missed out on opportunities. King of the fast break? Lebron James. Any and every team he joins is automatically one of the best fast-break teams in the league. He’s an expert in dissecting how well prepared opposing teams are prepared to defend in transition on every individual possession. When that ball is in the air, King James is looking to see whether its best to crash the boards or make a run for it if he has numbers. The Wizards will have to outscore the Cavaliers in transition to have a chance to win this game. If they are outscored in this category, I see a Cavaliers victory.

  • Staying medium

I hate to channel Jim Zorn here but…all this talk of a rivalry has me worried. With Pierce, Lebron, Wall, Kyrie, Nene, and Varejao all involved, this game could get testy. I’d like to hope the Wizards play this game with passion and a little bit of physicality, but I’d also hope that they come into it as if it’s strictly business. Wall needs to pick his spots on offense and try to get easy buckets. He took a lot of heat last game for forcing the issue, especially that last minute attempt to tie the game which never even felt like it had a chance. He should expend most of his efforts slowing down Kyrie Irving and forcing the Cavs defense to toggle back and forth between rushed transition defense and mismatched half court defensive sets. He can do this by smothering Kyrie and disrupting his passing lanes, while constantly differentiating between the tempo he handles the ball with and calling for screens when necessary. Basically – do not try to outscore Kyrie Irving. Create opportunities and don’t let him breathe for a second. Bradley Beal is coming off a helluva game where everything fell…that doesn’t mean it will all fall tonight. I expect Bradley to continue to aim and fire, which I support, but beating a Lebron James anchored defense is about ball movement and creating mismatches. This goes along the lines of “staying medium” but still brings me to my next point

  • Moving the ball

It was hard not to notice the parallels of Wednesday nights contests. Spurs vs. Cavs. The Mavs taking on the Wizards. The Mavs and Spurs being the two franchises to beat a Lebron James Finals team. Why? The same way the Mavs killed the Wizards defense. Ball movement. The only way to punish Lebron James and his infectious help-side and trap defense is to keep moving the ball until it’s too late for the closeout. The Spurs did it to perfection in the NBA Finals, and Rick Carlisle made it a staple of the Mavs offense during their infamous playoff run in 2010. The Mavs worked the ball so well in finding Brandan Wright and J.J. Barea shot attempts on Wednesday that even when Dirk went isolation or ran a simple screen and roll the Wizards defense played confused. It left them on their heels all night and they only kept the lead because the Mavericks just couldn’t convert. Well, with Lebron, Love and Kyrie, I wouldn’t expect the Cavs to miss. The Wizards need to keep working the ball around the perimeter and run more effective screen and rolls with Nene and Gortat. Isolation offense bogs down this teams offense and it won’t work tonight unless they catch fire. That’s not how you want to win games.

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