Opening Statements: Wizards at Cavaliers, Game 15 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Cavaliers, Game 15

Updated: December 1, 2015



Y’know, I bet Randy Wittman and the Wizards were sitting there in the Verizon Center locker room, holding their collective heads in their collective hands, muttering under their collective breath over the heartbreaking nature of their most recent defeat—the truly excruciating buzzer-beating 3 courtesy of Cory Goshdarn Joseph—when they suddenly brightened and collectively uttered something along the lines of, “Oh wait, hold up guys. We get to go play LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland next! We good.” 

Now that I read it, that’s probably not how it went down. Although, according to Drew Gooden, the Wizards are only 5.5 games out of first place in the East.

The Wizards’ season began as a shooting star. Hopes and aspirations were high and the vaunted, coveted Eastern Conference Finals was seen as the ultimate goal. (Did anybody really peg them for a championship contender?) Just 14 games, eight losses, and two separate losing streaks of at least three games into the schedule, that season is instead turning out to more closely resemble a flaming projectile, some sort of distorted, misshapen mass—garbage, perhaps?—set ablaze and launched through the sky, taking the hopes and dreams of Washingtonians young and old with it. Then again, the season is still young. It could be a glorious comet distorted by the Northern Lights.

And now the Wizards travel to the Quicken Loans Arena, where James and Co. are 9-0 this season and 40-10 dating back to last season. At 13-4, the Cavs have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the third best in the NBA. The only better records: the literally incomparable Golden State Warriors and the ultra-reliable San Antonio Spurs (who lost to the Wizards!). Then again, if I told you a month ago to rank the top three teams in the NBA right now, there’s a damn good chance you would have said Warriors, Spurs, Cavs, so there aren’t really any surprises there. 

But the Cavaliers have dominated the early portion of their schedule without point guard Kyrie Irving and wing Iman Shumpert, who both reportedly made their season practice debut Monday. Neither will play against the Wizards on Tuesday, but with three regular season matchups to come after New Year’s Day, this is likely the only time Washington will play against Cleveland without the pair.

The Wizards and Cavs played four times last season, but only three mattered as the final matchup was also the last game of the regular season with nothing on the line, and thus was a mockery of the sport. In the first of those three games, Washington claimed a win thanks to a cool 28 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals by John Wall. The other two games went … slightly differently. The Cavs beat the Wizards in Cleveland by an insulting score of 113-87 just five days after that Wiz win, then LeBron and Irving combined for 53 points and four metaphorical middle fingers thrust into the air in a 127-89 schoolyard stomping in D.C.—you know, that Feb. 20 game in which Washington somehow managed to shoot just 1-for-16 from beyond the arc (shoutout Otto Porter for that beautiful, beautiful one). 

Without Irving tonight, the Wizards would, in theory, have a chance. But Cleveland isn’t dicking around, and James is looking to squelch any attempts by outsiders to consider the Cavs a notch below the Warriors (which they totally are). If you’re looking for a bounce-back game, this ranks among the top three or four worst places to find one. Remember: the Wizards have rarely looked any good this season.

If the Witt and the Wiz took advantage of the extra day of rest following the never-fun 4-in-5 stretch—featuring four losses, each in its own fun way—they just suffered through, Washington might keep it close. If they come out looking anything close to what they’ve looked like in recent seasons, this one could get out of hand quickly.

If the Wizards somehow pull off a win here, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to turn the good feels into an upward swing, just like they did after beating the Spurs as is sometimes the case with upset victories. A loss, while very much expected, could further damage the seemingly thin-skinned Wizards’ morale; a five-game losing streak just has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? And if it’s an especially bad loss, perhaps a 30-point beatdown or the Wizards give up 120 points, some cutting Randy quotes are sure to follow in the postgame presser, which rarely does much to kick any life into the team.

As a positive side note, LeBron has averaged just 26.0 points per game against Washington in his career. That’s the same mark he’s put up against Houston and Denver, and only Memphis (25.5), Detroit (24.4), and the Clippers (24.2) have held him to less. And, just to reach, Kevin Love has “only” averaged 10.5 rebounds per game against Washington, the same number he averages against Memphis. Only Toronto (10.4) and Miami (10.0) hold him to less.

TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) has more#PositivePixels after the jump.

Teams: Wizards at Cavs
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Television: NBATV
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Cavs fav’d by 9 points.

The Wizards have beaten Cleveland 16 times in the regular season over the past 10 seasons—11 of those wins have come in Washington. Fun Fact: The Wizards have made double-digits in 3-pointers in just one of those wins.

Here are my top three wins:

No. 3
March 3, 2012 — Verizon Center
Wizards 101, Cavaliers 98

Ex-Wizard Antawn Jamison paced the Cavs with 29 points, and Kyrie Irving chipped in 20, but that was no match for the 55 combined points from John Wall (24 points, 17 shots) and Jordan Crawford (31 points, 22 shots).

Play of the game? Basically Trevor Booker fouled Irving with the Wizards up 100-97 with seven second left, but Wall flew into the screen to block the shot, ensuring the Irving would not be going to the line for a chance to tie. Irving missed the second free throw and JaVale McGee secured the board. Somehow the Wizards were awarded a timeout before the Cavs could foul McGee. And Jan Vesely played! Read TAI’s DC Council from that game.

No. 2
March 13, 2008 — Verizon Center
Wizards 101, Cavaliers 99

LeBron led the Cavs with 25 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, and 7 turnovers. Sasha Pavlovic (blast from the past!) scored 24 for Cleveland. That was no match for the seven Wizards who scored in double-figures: Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Darius Songaila, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Antonio Daniels, and Nick Young. There was no Gilbert Arenas and no one cracked 20 points (Butler scored 19). The Wizards, down 46-54 at halftime, outscored Cleveland 34-25 in the third quarter to take the advantage.

No. 1
January 4, 2009 — Verizon Center
Wizards 80, Cavaliers 77

No, Gilbert “Gilly” Arenas didn’t play in this game, either, which puts into question the whole validity of this impromptu ranking. You know who did play? LeBron. He scored 30 points. But, the rag-tag starting crew of Mike James, Caron Butler, Dominic McGuire, Antawn Jamison, and Andray Blatche—holy stretch-the-court lineups!—combined to score 68 of Washington’s 80 points. And of course the Wizards only went 2-for-10 from the 3-point line with this “stretch” lineup. Jamison paced the Wizards with 26 points (1-1 from deep) and Butler tallied 19 (1-5 from deep). The damndest thing: Washington led 68-54 after three quarters only to see the Cavs come storming back with a 23-12 fourth quarter. Antawn Jamison scored the game winner to put Washington up 79-77 with 10.5 seconds left (Nick Young assisted him! Nick Young assisted him!), and LeBron missed a 3-point shot to tie the game at the buzzer. Damndest thing, I say.


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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.