Cavaliers vs. Wizards Preview (12/26/12)

It’s ‘Boxing Day’ folks, and your 3-22 Washington Wizards will have a legitimate chance to pick up a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up

Bradley Beal, who is evidently still dealing with back pain, has averaged nearly 17 points per game during the past three games in which he has played. Beal is starting to get comfortable in Washington’s turbulent offense, and seems to be looking for his shot more frequently than he did during the start of the season. His lack of aggressiveness is still a bit concerning, but I expect Beal to progress as the season goes along. He’ll have his hands full tonight, as he will be matched up with other rookie star, Dion Waiters.

Waiters, like Beal, has been dealing with his own injury problems. After missing eight games in the month of December due to a sprained ankle, Waiters had a bounce back game against the Milwaukee Bucks, in which he scored 18 points and picked up a victory on the road. The Cleveland Cavaliers have only won six games the entire season, and need Waiters to contribute as much as possible. Waiters scored 17 points against Beal on opening night.  This match up between the two rookie guards will be looked at for years to come. With Kyrie Irving and John Wall both on the cusp on stardom, Beal and Waiters will both be under the microscope. Needless to say, they will most likely be compared for the rest of their careers.

Other Links/Notes

Prediction

Ted Leonsis is expecting the players to put on better performances tonight, and so am I. Let’s face it, with John Wall still sidelined, the Washington Wizards won’t have many chances to win games. The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be a bit shorthanded tonight as they’re missing the leagues leading rebounder, Anderson Varejao. Varejao had one of the most memorable games of his career, when the Cavaliers took out the Wizards on opening night. The Wizards don’t have a player which can match up with Varejao, so his absence from tonight’s game will obviously benefit Washington.

Coming into the 2012-2013 season, most of us expected the Wizards and Cavaliers to become fringe playoff teams. As of today, both teams have a combined total of nine wins. That’s terrible, to say the least. Injuries have derailed both teams, but one player who continues to improve and ‘wow’ the NBA, is Cavaliers’ reigning Rookie of the Year; Kyrie Irving.

The Wizards have virtually zero depth when it comes to the point guard position. New signings, Garrett Temple and Shelvin Mack, will have to play roles in which they have no experience in playing. Both players are subject to play very limited minutes on most occasions, but with John Wall still out, the guards will take on a bigger role than normally expected. Jordan Crawford is forced to play an unnatural position, and has too look for opportunities to create for others, while he’s constantly in a scoring mentality. ‘JCraw’ will have to contribute on both sides of the floor, as defending Kyrie Irving is no easy task. At 23 points per game, Irving is one of the leagues best scorers, and has a reputation of lighting teams up which lack good defensive point guards. If the Wizards can contain Irving, it will without a doubt increase their chances of winning.

Cleveland isn’t ranked much better than Washington in virtually any statistic, besides pace. The Cavaliers have a few players on their roster which like to push the tempo, and as a result they’re ranked fifth in pace; per HoopData. In my opinion, the Wizards do have the edge defensively. With Varejao out, guys like Emeka Okafor and Nene will have an easier task at guarding their opposing big men.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Wizards do take their current losing streak to heart and as a result play with more passion on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers aren’t that much more talented than the Wizards, as their record shows. If the Wizards control their turnovers, and do their best to contain Kyrie Irving, they have a good chance to leave ‘the phonebooth’ with their fourth victory.

Wizards will prevail; 93-85

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