Season Opener: Wizards at Cavaliers

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It’s that time of year Wizards fans. The countdown is over, and the season is upon us. The Cleveland Cavaliers will open up the NBA season against the Washington Wizards at the Quicken Loans Arena.

Key Match-Up

The much anticipated match-up between reigning Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall will unfortunately not happen. As Wall continues to deal with his stress injury, the focus of the game will turn to rookies Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters. Beal, who was selected third overall in this years draft, and Waiters, who was selected fourth overall, were touted as the best shooting guards of this years draft class. When asked about the possibility of playing against Beal, Waiters stated “I don’t worry about that.”  With Wall out, all eyes will be on the two former college stars.

After losing much of their offensive capabilities due to injuries, the Wizards will make Bradley Beal a focal point in their offense. On Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs, Beal finished the game scoreless after missing all six of his shots from the field. Beal’s lack of aggressiveness has some Wizards fans concerned. He has the ability to not only shoot the outside jump shot, but to use that as a catalyst to get to the basket. Washington needs Beal to start off his NBA career on the right track if they want to return home with a ‘W’.

Other Notes

  • The Wizards, as noted, will be missing John Wall and Kevin Seraphin. Nene who was listed as ‘out’, is now listed as a ‘game time decision’ for tonight’s season opener. Don’t expect Nene to show up on the floor tonight.
  • Despite of Martell Websters exceptional play in the preseason, Randy Wittman has opted to start Trevor Ariza. It seemed like a logical move to allow Webster to start, but our very own Kevin Hine has the answer as to why Ariza is starting.
  • The Wizards arrived in Cleveland on Saturday night in order to avoid Hurricane Sandy.
  • In other Trevor Ariza news, Washington is home to, two of five ‘Trevors’ in NBA History. Both of them, Ariza and Booker, will be starting tonight.

Prediction

As noted, the Wizards are missing a plethora of big men. With Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson sharing the front court for the Cavaliers, the Wizards will need everyone on the court to rebound. Earlier this month, the Wizards beat the Cavaliers on the road, a game in which Varejao, Thompson, and Jon Leuer combined for 30 of the team’s 44 rebounds. With Trevor Booker and Emeka Okafor in the lineup, the Wizards should have a chance to scrap with the Cavaliers’ big men.

With the team missing their leading scorer, John Wall, the Wizards will need contribution from everyone on the team including Trevor Ariza. Thus far, Ariza certainly hasn’t lived up to his capabilities or expectations. Shooting a whopping 28 percent from the floor during the preseason, Ariza will quickly lose his starting spot to the likes of Webster, Chris Singleton, and even Cartier Martin. The Wizards simply can’t afford such nonchalant play from Ariza.

Let’s face it, the Wizards roster is depleted. Guarding Kyrie Irving will probably be the toughest task of all for Washington. Unlike John Wall, Irving possesses the uncanny ability to shoot from the perimeter. Irving has become one of the league’s top scoring guards, averaging over 18 points during his rookie season. Even despite removing four wisdom teeth last week, Irving has his sights set on the Washington Wizards.

Despite of everything I mentioned, I’ll be a little optimistic. If the Wizards do not trail behind during the start of the game, and compete from the perimeter, they should be able to scrap out a victory on opening night.  Stopping Kyrie Irving has been a tough task for the majority of point guards in the NBA, therefore A.J. Price needs to bring his ‘A-Game’ in tonight’s match up. If Price contains Irving, and the Wizards rebound the basketball, they should sneak out with a victory.

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