Opening Statements: Wizards vs Cavaliers, Game 11 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Cavaliers, Game 11

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Updated: November 21, 2014

Washington Wizards vs Cleveland Cavaliers - Game 1 - 2012-13 - Oct. 30, 2012 - Truth About It.net

The circus has come to town, as LeBron James and the Cavaliers have ventured out of the cold desolation of Northern Ohio and bring their daily drama to the District for their very first tilt with the Wizards. Currently, James’ Cavs are undergoing the same sort of withering scrutiny that his Miami Heat endured during their first season under the bright lights. The attention has turned to the failings of first-year coach David Blatt and the ‘feelings’ of prize acquisition Kevin Love, who is currently undergoing an intensive “Chis Boshing” in a new offensive system and playing alongside James. You would think that would be the end of it, but James is also whispering about limiting his minutes and Kyrie Irving’s capabilities as a passing point guard. Dion Waiters still exists as a meme on Twitter.

It’s all very entertaining, but what does it mean for the Wizards?

While some may yearn for the “rivalry” of yesteryear, the Wizards seem determined to keep the past firmly in its place, buried under unsold Soulja Boy CDs and discarded sketches for new DeShawn Stevenson tattoos. Even Paul Pierce, a prime agitator of James during his long tenure on the Celtics, made public comments this week that he has “complete respect” for James, a sort of backpedaling one doesn’t often see before a game expected to have a “playoff” atmosphere. Pierce may being playing possum with every intention of having his normal testy relationship with the Cavs star, or he may be laying covering fire for his younger charges’ egos in case the Wizards get buried under a barrage of 3-pointers and tomahawk dunks.

The true concern for the Wizards is that their one identifiable “strength” entering this matchup was the size problem they could pose for the Cavaliers and the sheer amount of big bodies that could be tossed at Anderson Varejao and his porcelain frame. That advantage is stymied, however, as Nene appears to have fossilized, DeJuan Blair has committed some horrendous unnamed sin, and Kevin Seraphin is likely to self-combust if forced to play in a game of such magnitude. That leaves a thin red, white and blue line of Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries, which doesn’t exactly scream “overwhelming size advantage.”

Hence, while others may be billing this as a “rivalry renewed,” it would be smarter to look at this as matchup between two teams that have no concept of either their floor or ceiling. Both are thrashing about looking for an identity and tonight will probably provide more questions than answers. It is anyone’s guess whether Kyrie Irving will ever internalize the benefit of passing the ball to his teammates or whether LeBron will learn the fine line between “motivating” and “sniping.” For the Wizards, the return of Bradley Beal is either going to shift the team to another plateau or force Randy Wittman to actually define proper roles for his bench. Tonight, I think the Wizards find more answers to their self-analysis.

My prediction? Wizards 103, Cavs 102.

Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

Joining TAI today is Scott Sargent (@WFNYScott), co-founder and editor of hallowed Cleveland sportsblog Waiting For Next Year, with questions posed by Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It).


Teams: Wizards vs Cavaliers
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN/ESPN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Cavs favored by 1.5-to-2 points.


Q #1: I’m not convinced that Cleveland will make it past the first round of the playoffs unless they make a trade to significantly improve their interior defense, which they have set themselves up to do via various maneuvers. But what say you?

[Note: Cleveland’s DefRtg (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 109.8 is currently ranked 24th in the NBA.]

@WFNYScottI believe your concern (or disbelief) borders on overblown, but mostly because the East is terrible and I believe this team has a safety net big enough to get them through a series with a rank and file opponent. Interior defense would be a plus, but help-side team defense is the logical first step. Would I be happy if the Cavs added a rim-protecting big man? Sure. Do I believe that they could be adequate if they shifted faster and trapped with conviction? Big time.

Q #2: But WAIT? Don’t the Cavs have former Wizard Brendan Haywood … NBA championship-winning Brendan Haywood (with the Mavs) on the bench?

Sure, he dribbles the ball looking at the ground like he’s trying to drop an egg into a convertible from a highway overpass, but can’t he play defense? (Yes, we know that Haywood has only seen 10 minutes over two games this season and that his unguaranteed contract is one of the potential pieces of bait for a trade.) How is our old friend B-Wood, who once talked some serious stuff about King James, doing? 

@WFNYScott: Haywood is that proverbial “veteran presence” thus far, providing guidance to guys like Joe Harris. Brendan is the father figure of the Cavs’ “bench mob.” Who knows if it stays this way, but if it does … trade opportunities galore. At the very least, he’s shown the best ninja-like sneaker game on the team.

Q #3: Will Joe Harris save Cleveland? Or will we find him working in a factory a couple seasons from now?

@WFNYScottI’m not sure if we need to place polar positions on a second-rounder, but if it’s one or the other … I would pick the former. The kid appears to be the perfect 3-and-D guy, but is also 6-foot-6 and embraces his role of “stand-in-the-corner-and-launch.” He’s a lot more athletic than given credit for and could be starting before too long.

Q #4: The numbers say that moving Dion Waiters to the bench was the right move after three games. I’m sure team chemistry says this same.

Is this a role that he’s wholeheartedly embraced (and one that he might consider adopting for the rest of his career, allowing him more freedom to produce bench points a la Jamal Crawford types)? Or do you think the most ideal situation is to ultimately trade him for something of more value to a championship-hopeful?

@WFNYScottI’m a big fan of Waiters and his game. There’s no doubting his potential, and he’s talked about the Sixth Man award. It’s embracing that concept more than mere soundbites that is the trick. If the Cavs feel they need to trade for anyone, they can smooth it out.

Q#5: Prediction!

How does the score of this game go?

@WFNYScott: The Cavs *should* pull away early, but we could have said that about any game thus far. I expect John Wall and Kyrie Irving to put on a show. I expect Marcin Gortat to kill it in the post—no different than any other big man facing Cleveland. But at the end of the day, the Cavs will have the best player on the floor at any point in the game. As long as Dion Waiters doesn’t try to duel with Bradley Beal, the Cavs will win a close one in the late stages. If you want a score, I’ll say 115-110.

 

Sean Fagan on FacebookSean Fagan on Twitter
Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and SI.com. He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.