The pre-game post before the very first game of the 2012-13 season, Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, October 30, 2012.
Here to tell you what you need to know and give a prediction is Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It), Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20), and guest, Amin Vafa (@AminVafaNBA), who writes about the Wizards at Bullets Forever, about the Cavaliers at Cavs for SB Nation Cleveland, and about the NBA in general at Hardwood Paroxysm.
A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, and Emeka Okafor
Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Cavs over the past week?)
@AminVafaNBA: The Cavs finished the preseason at 3-4. Depending on what you think about the preseason’s worth, that record is respectable/amazing/decent/bad/awful/irrelevant. To me, the preseason is about on-court chemistry and individual performance, so with that, they haven’t looked too bad. The team needs to work on its defense and its rebounding a bit, but it’s a very athletic roster that can run with anyone. Once Kyrie Irving’s off his pain meds after getting all four wisdom teeth yanked, they should be ready to roll against the Wiz on Tuesday night.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@AminVafaNBA: You’re going to want to keep an eye on Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller and CJ Miles. Miles is going to be the primary scorer off the bench, and that means the Wizards are going to need to prevent him from scoring. Chris Singleton will probably be tasked with guarding him; with his length and strength, he would do a fairly decent job at that. As for Waiters and Zeller: the latter will be able to score inside–especially against the Wiz’s bench bigs with Nene out. And for Waiters, with all the hype playing him down this summer, I would expect many to have their guard down on his game. I think that’s a bad idea, because even though he’s had a so-so lead up to opening night, he can still score at the basket and all over the halfcourt.
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@AminVafaNBA: If Wall were playing, I’d say the Wall/Beal vs. Irving/Waiters backcourt battles would be the marquee matchup. So I guess I’ll still have to say Beal vs. Waiters, since they’re rookie shooting guards that were drafted right after one another. But I think the matchup we’re all waiting to see is the Cain and Abel of our time, Jeremy vs. Jannero Pargo.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: Here’s to hoping that Trevor Ariza doesn’t underestimate Alonzo Gee and look foolish in the process. Here’s to hoping that Trevor Booker doesn’t get in foul trouble guarding Tristan Thompson. Here’s to hoping that Anderson Varejao doesn’t flop into Bradley Beal’s knee. The Cavs may be more healthy and have a better chance to win, but I think the Wizards have the stronger bench, and it will come down to just that. Don’t be surprised if Jordan Crawford and Martell Webster are the leading scorers for the Wizards, but to get the win, they’ll need Chris Singleton or Jan Vesely to step up.
Q #5: Who is further along in the rebuilding process, Cleveland or Washington?
(question via Twitter from: @MrBjack)
@Rashad20: Washington, by the slimmest of margins. Kyrie Irving is better than John Wall right now, but his supporting cast (Anderson Varejao aside) is not causing opponents to adjust their scouting reports. When healthy (which is how all things Wizards need to be prefaced these days), the Wizards have a proven low-post scorer (Nene), two above-average defenders (Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor) and a collection of young role players (Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Jordan Crawford, Kevin Seraphin). The Cavs have solid role players (Alonzo Gee, Omri Cassipi, Boobie Gibson), but unless Tristan Thompson has a breakout year, their post play is not as good. That being said, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see both teams return to the NBA lottery next year.
The Spread: The Cavaliers are favored by 5.5 points and the over/under is 190 (via USA Today).
@AminVafaNBA: I say the Cavs win, 100-94, for two reasons: 1) Wall and Nene are out and 2) The Q is a really tough arena for away teams. But regardless, I think it’ll be a close game, and I think Beal will shine. Not having the two best players on the team, though, will hurt a lot.
@Truth_About_It: Upset special! The Wizards will play as a team, or else … and this version of the Wizards has had enough time under Randy Wittman to let the ‘or else’ part sink in. Defense prevails, in a sense. Wizards 105, Cavs 101.
@Rashad20: The Cavs will win, 94-82, Kyrie Irving will have 25 points, and Wizards will have a balanced scoring attack led by Jordan Crawford with 16.
More from Twitter…
Q: Is there any chance John Wall could come back earlier than expected? And what are the chances Nene plays in the opener?
(question via Twitter from: @_BigSwaggBearAJ)
@Rashad20: The last thing the Wizards franchise wants is for John Wall to come back early, only to develop a nagging injury that lasts the entire season. I think Wall will be brought along cautiously, even if he wants to come back early. As for Nene, I’ll defer to the wisdom of Craig Stouffer, the Wizards beat writer for the Washington Examiner, who said, “Nene is still out, Wizards friends and family. Guy has to practice fully before he makes a magical game appearance.”
Q: Which 2012 pick will likely drop 20 points, Beal or Waiters?
(question via Twitter from: @llttlwayne)
@Rashad20: Beal. Even though he’s a rookie, Beal’s scoring will be needed to offset the absence of Nene and Wall, so he’ll have more of a green light than Waiters.
Q: Would you rather have Wall/Beal or Irving/Waiters?
(question via Twitter from: @arosen_nc)
@Rashad20: Right now, I’d rather have Wall/Beal, because I’m skeptical of Dion Waiters ability to be a contributor for a full season. But if Waiters turns out to be as good or better than Beal, I’d be open to switching my vote to the Irving/Waiters backcourt duo. But I think Beal is a better all-around guard than Waiters, and that will only make the game easier for Wall—assuming he stays healthy, of course.