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Wizards vs. Cavs Pregame: Who Can Conquer the All-Star Break Hangover?

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Cleveland (33-22) at Washington (33-21)

February 20, 2015 at 8:00
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]33-21[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]TEAM RECORD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]33-22[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]99.7[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (own)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]102.2[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]97.3[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (opp)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]99.3[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Lost 1[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]W/L STREAK[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost 1[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Lost at Raptors 95-93[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PREVIOUS GAME[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost at Bulls 113-98[/ezcol_1third_end]


Last time they met was..

November 26, 2014 @ Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland – Cavs 113, Wizards 87

This one was oooooooogly. The Cavs dominated this match in what was basically a harsh measure of vengeance they owed the Wizards after a 13-point loss in DC just five days prior. Cleveland’s Big 3 domineered their way led by LeBron’s 29-8-10. Love finished with 21 and Kyrie had 18.

As is the case in most Wizards losses, the Wizards doubled up on the turnovers (18 to Cleveland’s 9), and were doubled down on free throws (only 16 to Cleveland’s 31).


What to watch: The Cavaliers went into the All-Star break winning 14 of 16 games, but game 16 was a loss to the Bulls. They will have been waiting eight days to get that taste out of their mouths. The Wizards will have been waiting nine days to rid themselves of the memory of that tough loss in Toronto. Both teams will be well rested. Both teams will know it’s time for that post-All-Star break push for the playoffs. Expect both teams to be at their best.

In other words, and I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but expect trouble. The Wizards struggle with stretch 4s, and Kevin Love is an elite level stretch 4. The Wizards have The Truth, Otto, and Rasual Butler as perimeter wing defender options. The Cavs have LeBron James on the wing.

But hope remains! Kyrie Irving is a poor defender, and John Wall is John Wall. Defensively, Kevin Love shouldn’t be able to guard Nene or Gortat (assuming he’s in the game more than Drew Gooden, which we learned the hard way, is no given).

If the Wizards can jump on the Cavs early, they have a tendency to fold. On the flip side, the Cavs are a tremendous front running team. If they get off to a quick start, look out.

Key match-up: John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving.

NBA: All Star Game-Practice

Regardless of what anyone says, you know these two relish the chance to go head to head. Kyrie will want to show Wall he should’ve been the All-Star starter. Wall will want to remind Kyrie why he was an All-Star star. Stats in this matchup will not reflect impact. The guy who is able to make his energy and desire most contagious in this game will have the advantage. Based on history, advantage: John Wall.

X-factor(s): 1) Tristan Thompson. This guy is an offensive rebounding machine. It’s pretty much his only discernible skill. But the extra possessions and second chance points he creates can change games (and infuriate opposing fans). He is fifth in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (3.7) and 3rd in the league in offensive rebound percentage (15.2) behind only Andre Drummond and deandre Jordan. BOX HIM OUT!!

2) LeBron James MVP mode. Judging by his 2 week mid-season “rest” (AKA vacation to relax and attend the Ohio State vs Oregon national championship game), no one knows how to pace themselves like LeBron James. And Lebron knows that post All-Star Break is when chemistry is finalized, and when MVPs are won.

Normally, I don’t put a lot of stock in +/- stats, but look at these numbers from LeBron’s last 2 seasons in Miami (when he first started the whole “pacing himself, picking his moments” stuff):

2012-2013:
Pre All-Star +/-: 11.1.
Post All-Star +/-: 17.6

2013-2014:
Pre All-Star +/-: 5.9.
Post All-Star +/-: 9.4

Don’t necessarily look for LeBron’s personal numbers to change dramatically. But DO look for the Cavs to look significantly better with LeBron on the floor from here on out. As a result, the Cavs wins will increase, and the LeBron MVP talk will increase. Hopefully, the campaign doesn’t start Friday night.

Fun factor(s): 1) John Wall vs Kyrie Irving! Yes, this is the key, but it’s also the fun part of this game. Kyrie is absolutely going to have a couple isolation sets where he over-dribbles, spins, and crosses over to the crowds approval. These sets may end in turnovers or buckets. But we all know they won’t end assists.

John Wall will be going to his highlight reel portfolio as well: Behind the back passes, no look passes, and dribbling exhibitions that may or may not also end in #optimusdimes. The fans are going to love it.

2) Booing LeBron! The man whines! The man Crab-travelled the Cavs to a win over our beloved Agent 0 era Wizards. The man takes mid-season vacations and talks about “chill mode”. I don’t care how good he is. F@&$! LeBron! Boo the hell out of him Wizards fans, please! And if you hear any Cavs fans starting MVP chants, please don’t restrain your desire to commit assault. Or just borrow this guy’s crybaby Big Head.

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Prediction: LeBron and company turn on the post-All-Star break switch. Fortunately, this game teaches them that that switch isn’t so easy to turn on when other teams are ready to flip the switch as well. Wizards come out strong, and ride their strong start to hold on to a narrow win!

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