D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Cavaliers, Game 49
If a rivalry never existed, can it truly die?
As long as LeBron James is in the NBA and as long as Gilbert Arenas is still popping up on TMZ every now and then, memories of the once-upon-a-time playoff battles between these two franchises will continue to be prevalent.
The Wizards always went home defeated but neither franchise “won” (or is currently “winning”). But times have changed. The Wizards got a jump on rebuilding and selected John Wall first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, almost a month prior to LeBron’s “decision” to go to the play for the Miami Heat. Since that much-maligned press conference, the Cavaliers have been able to score two first overall draft picks (Kyrie Irving in 2011 and Anthony Bennett in 2013), but have not been propelled to the level everyone thought they would be at this season.
Instead, they are wrought with dysfunction that comes close to rivaling the Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee days. Their GM has been fired, players have fought in the locker room, have threatened not to play, and most recently, the Cavs embarrassingly lost to a severely undermanned Lakers squad. Irving, undeservingly voted an All-Star starter in the East by the fans, was benched by head coach Mike Brown for the entire fourth quarter (and for the last 7.5 minutes of the third quarter for that matter).
But Kryie is good and he’s still a star of some type. And last time out in D.C., on November 16, 2013, he proved such, scoring 41 points in an overtime win while John Wall went 3-for-13 from the field. Also from that night, Jarrett Jack and Bradley Beal got heated with each other because Jack scored an unnecessary layup with the game in hand; and Jan Vesely did this. Read the full run-down in the Game 9 D.C. Council. Four days later, the Wizards enacted revenge in Cleveland via a 98-91 win where Washington got up 80-59 after three quarters only to see Cleveland almost come back with a 27-10 run to start the fourth quarter. Find the Game 11 D.C. Council for your reading pleasure here.
The latest reports tell us that Irving missed shoot-around this morning because he is sick (I bet), and that he will be a game time decision this evening.
Joining me for the D.C. Council Opening Statements is Amin Vafa (@AminNBA), son of Cleveland (aka, #Blessed), and now a resident of Washington, D.C., who covers the Wizards for Bullets Forever, the NBA for Hardwood Paroxysm, and the Cavs with a twinkle in his eye.
Teams: Wizards vs. Cavaliers
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 8.5 points.
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: For some reason I didn’t realize that Chris Grant had been GM of the Cavs for so long (since 2010), but hey, Ernie Grunfeld has “led” the Wizards for over a decade (since 2003), so what do I know anymore?
That’s not a question, I don’t think. Real Q: Was it premature to fire Grant? Why or why not? And on the scale of 1-to-10, how much is Dan Gilbert hurting Cleveland as a destination where players will want to play?
@AminNBA: No, it was not premature. I’m not sure the whole thing was Grant’s fault—I think there’s blame to pass around from ownership to players and everyone in between—but his asset-hoarding went on too long and rarely bore fruit. I don’t think the firings are done, to be honest.
Q #2: Otto Porter for Anthony Bennett straight up, who says no?
Psyche! I say no. JK… would never do that. But really, explain to me (or at least attempt to explain) why Bennett isn’t a lost cause.
@AminNBA: Bennett’s not a lost cause because he’s 20 and coming off injury—just like Otto Porter. He got injured so he was out of shape, which led to him losing his explosiveness. His loss of explosiveness led him to lose his confidence—which was already going to be low because he’s a damn rookie that plays near the basket in a league with some grown-ass men. Plus, he’s got asthma and sleep apnea, and those don’t exactly add to confidence or conditioning. On top of alllll of that, he played out of position this season at the 3 instead of the 4 because there’s a backlog of bigs and a dearth of small forwards.
But he’s been getting in shape, and he’s increasing his confidence. I want to see him play against equivalent-to-inferior competition in the D-League so he can really get in 35 minutes per game. He may not have been worth the No. 1 overall pick, but I don’t think he’s a bust, either.
Q #3: Start a fire, break out some marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers, and tell me about the positives over some s’mores.
@AminNBA: The positives of the Cavs? Umm … well, let’s see. OK, let’s start with Kyrie Irving. He is really good. Dion Waiters: also really good. Um, Luol Deng. He hasn’t been around all that long, but he seems like a nice guy. C.J. Miles and Matthew Dellavedova seem to be pretty fun off the bench. Tristan Thompson looks like a guy with Tyrus Thomas’s ceiling without all the grumpiness. Oh, and my sweet, sweet Varejao. Nostalgia sprinkled with great screening and rebounding, topped with a curly mop top.
True or False with @AminNBA:
True or False: Cleveland needs to work on their spirit fingers.
True or False: This can’t be worse than some of the worst seen from the Wizards in recent years, can it? (Also, good luck answering true or false.)
True… for now. I would not be surprised, however, if altercations took place. But since I don’t foresee firearms in the mix, it may never get as bad as #FingaGunzGate.
True or False: The Cavs are so going to come in on Friday and beat the Wizards, aren’t they?
False. A-bounceback-win-after-my-coach-was-fired is one thing. A-bounceback-win-after-my-GM-was-fired is another thing. Plus, the Wizards are really good at defense. And if Mike Brown keeps benching his two best guards to teach them lessons about defensive toughness, the Wizards could win handily.
True or False: After Friday’s game, the Cleveland franchise leaves Mike Brown in Washington, where he returns to his roots and becomes assistant to the assistant regional video coordinator manager.
False. He leaves to open up a half-smoke cart adjacent to the Air and Space Museum. They need one there.
True or False: Mike Brown fancies himself as Cleveland Brown of the Cleveland Show and, in fact, that’s the main reason why he went back to coach the Cavs, but nowadays he’s thinking of moving back to Quahog now that the show has been cancelled.
False. Have you seen this team? It’s definitely got Quagmire written all over it. Giggidy.