Opening Statements: Wizards at Cavaliers, Game 61 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Cavaliers, Game 61

Updated: March 4, 2016


Teams: Wizards at Cavaliers
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: The Q Arena, Cleveland
Television: ESPN/CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Cavs fav’d by 8.5 points

It must really suck to win all the time. Just look at the 55-5 Warriors. Their best player is undoubtedly a robot, and their maybe-second-possibly-third best player recently launched into a profanity-laced tirade at halftime about not being a robot and threatening his teammates (of which an undetermined number may or may not, in fact, be of the robotic sort). Or venture a hop, skip, and a jump east, where the 42-20 Thunder aren’t disciplined and are fooling themselves, according to arguably their best player. Pop down south and the Spurs’ chemistry is so bad, Tim Duncan is just tackling Tony Parker mid-game (1).

And then there are the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have all kinds of semi-controversies in the works. Kyrie Irving may or may not want to leave Cleveland, LeBron James may or may not regret leaving the Heat, Kevin Love still may or may not fit in with the team, and, oh yeah, the Cavaliers fired their coach midseason in favor of a 38-year-old player (2) who had never been a head coach before.

Meanwhile, the Wizards are (probably) beaming with pride after finally working their way back up to .500 for the first time since Jan. 15.

It must really be tough winning all the damn time.

So here we have the matchup: a disgruntled, conference-leading, defending conference champion Cavs squad that’s won 71.2 percent of its games versus a “rolling” Wizards squad hoping for a few more breaks (3) so it can maybe, possibly get hot enough to sneak into the bottom half of the playoffs. Now, in Cleveland: hold on tight, it’s gonna be a rockin’ Friday night.

The Wizards are 3-4 against Cleveland since LeBron decided South Beach had had enough of his talents; one of those wins came this past Sunday sans James, and another came in the first of the seven meetings, as the Cavs were still figuring out how to make the James-Irving-Love trio work. The only other Wiz win came earlier this season, when John Wall took advantage of Mo Williams (4) to the tune of 35 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and 5 steals. Worth noting: Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter each played more than 40 minutes in that game, while James led the Cavaliers with 37:23 of action.

In other words, Washington is 1-3 against the Cavs when the Big 3 plays.

This game should provide something of a barometer for where the Wizards truly are. Having won seven of nine since the All-Star break, things are looking up. The blowout loss to the Heat was forgivable, as it was the Wizards’ third game in three nights, on the road … and Randy Wittman hates playing his young players, etc. The loss to the Bulls—who were made up of Doug McDermott, Pau Gasol, and the cast of Backyard Basketball that evening—was not forgivable. Otherwise, Washington has mostly done what it’s supposed to do. The schedule has been remarkably forgiving, but that’s not the team’s fault; all the Wizards can do in that scenario is go out and beat the bad teams, which it didn’t do nearly enough earlier in the season.

If the young magicians lose this game, it’s certainly not a death knell—does anybody really expect the Wizards to beat elite teams on the road? What is important is how they play, win or lose. Sure, it sounds cliche, but it’s true and it’s relevant. If they come out slowly and fall down by 20, then never get back in the game and lose by 18, that’s a bad sign. Alternatively, if they come out slowly and fall down by 20, then lose by two, that’s a much easier loss to take, because it shows resiliency and the ability to fight through adversity, something Jared Dudley said they haven’t displayed earlier in the season. If the Wizards come out hot and take a big lead, only to blow it, that’s a bad loss and it continues a pattern we’ve seen from them throughout the year. If they rout the Cavaliers through and through, that’s a great sign for the Wizards, but also probably a bad sign for the Cavs.

What’s more, after the game in Cleveland, Washington returns home to take on the 32-29 Pacers, who are locking down the seventh spot in the east, before traveling across the country to do battle with one of the league’s top backcourts in Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and the 33-29 Trail Blazers, who sit seventh in the west. It seems we say this with some frequency, but this is a very important stretch for the Wizards coming up, and how they fare will play a significant role in how their season ultimately shakes out.

  1. OK, ignore the last one.
  2. More than a year younger than Andre Miller!
  3. Not that a team can get much more of a break than a four-game stretch consisting of two games against the Sixers, with a game against the LeBron-less Cavs sandwiched in between, followed by a game against the Timberwolves.
  4. With Mo starting in place of an injured Irving.
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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.