With John Wall serving a one-game suspension, a couple of his Wizards teammates picked up the slack, en route to highlight plays, career nights, and a 115-107 win that concluded a season sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jordan Crawford notched his first career triple-double with 21 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, while Andray Blatche had 36 points and 19 rebounds, 16 of which were offensive, a career- and franchise-high for the Wizards.
To be honest, I thought the team showcased some of the same weaknesses we have been discussing recently – not taking enough 3s when they were available (4-8 for 50%), allowing too many threes (CLE shot 5-22 from 3 for only 22%), too many shots at the rim (CLE 21-26), letting Ramon Sessions in particular get into the lane with frequency (he was 5-5 at the rim and had two And-1s), and some poor defense against the pick-and-roll. They also performed poorly at the free-throw line shooting 19-32 for a pitiful 59%. Still, it was their effort that allowed them to triumph, seen primarily in their domination of the boards.
The Wizards out-rebounded the Cavs 56-38 (27-12 offensive), and this alone was the primary difference in the game. Because they didn’t turn to ball over much (11 TOs), their advantage on the offensive boards allowed them 11 more field-goal attempts than the Cavs in the first half alone. This allowed them to keep pace despite giving up 53% shooting while shooting only 44% themselves.
In the second half Crawford spurred the comeback as he picked up his play to score 15 of his total points, 6 assists and 9 rebounds; 8 of them defensive, contributing to a better defensive effort by the team overall by limiting the Cavs’ shot opportunities.
This evening they will play the Bobcats in Charlotte, who are fighting for their post-season lives, two games back from the 8th spot in the playoffs. One thing they will have to watch against the Bobcats is fouls, as Charlotte possesses one of the higher free-throw rates in the league.
John Wall returns, and if his mates can keep up their effort from the previous games, his added production should allow them to match up well with the ‘Cats, despite the difference in the standings. The Wizards are again without Rashard Lewis, Nick Young, Cartier Martin who aggravated a leg injury against the Cavs, Trevor Booker (out for the season), and Hamady N’Diaye. N’Diaye was a late scratch due to an injured right knee suffered during, of all things, warm-ups. The Bobcats are short-handed as well, however, and will only dress 9 players, reports Michael Lee of The Washington Post.
If the Wizards win tonight, they will have only their second winning streak of the season. I will again be paying attention to their defense of the 3-point line and the rim, the way they move the ball around the perimeter to create open shots AND if they take those shots, and to their overall effort and discipline. Tip-off is shortly after 6:00 PM. What will you be watching for?