Nov 16, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Martell Webster (9) dunks the ball during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers preview: Road back to over .500

The Wizards are back to .500 after dropping a double digit lead to the San Antonio Spurs, but they’ll have another chance to get over the mark today against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. The game tips off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

The Cavaliers have been really, really bad this season, and they might be without Kyrie Irving tonight, which makes them even worse, if that’s possible. With that said, the Wizards have to do a better job at protecting their home court, and they can’t allow themselves to play down to their competition. Even though the Cavaliers are 5-20 away from home, they still have capable players on their roster. Luol Deng hasn’t really helped them win games since they acquired him from the Chicago Bulls, but he’s definitely still a threat. Unlike some players on the Cavaliers roster, Deng will show up to play no matter what, even if their season is essentially already lost. Deng is averaging nearly 18 points per game this season, but he has struggled over the past few games. He scored just 3 points in a loss to the depleted Lakers on Wednesday, and I think he’s due for another big game.

Trevor Ariza has always done a solid job defensively against opposing forwards, but he can’t lose focus tonight. He’s been prepared against the likes of Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, but he still has a tendency to fall asleep defensively against lesser opponents. Luol Deng is capable of having big nights, so it’s important that Ariza brings it tonight. If he slips up, the game could become a lot closer than it should be.

Notes:

  • Chris Grant, Cleveland’s former general manager, was fired yesterday after the Cavaliers got embarrassed by the Lakers. When was the last time a GM got fired midway through the season? That’s how bad the Cavs have been this year.
  • The Cavaliers are in the bottom-10 in both offense and defense. They’re bad.
  • Even though they’ve been bad in virtually every statistical category, the Cavaliers do have some big men that are capable of grabbing a ton of rebounds. Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson average about a combined 20 boards per game.

Prediction:

If the Wizards play down to the level of their competition, then this game will be closer than it should be. If they play with the same intensity as they did against the Thunder, Trail Blazers, and even the Spurs, then they should be able to pick up a blowout victory at home tonight.

Without Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers won’t have many scoring options. Dion Waiters and Luol Deng are capable of scoring the ball, but the Cavaliers have been so bad offensively this season that I wouldn’t even worry about it. While John Wall should have the advantage over Jarrett Jack, he can’t allow him to dominate the game offensively. Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza/Martell Webster have always had big games against the Cavaliers. If Nene and Marcin Gortat control the boards, I think the Wizards should run away with the win.

I think the Wizards are going to get a fairly easy ‘W’ tonight, but it all depends on which team shows up to play.

Tags: John Wall Kyrie Irving Luol Deng Nba Preview Trevor Ariza Washington Wizards Wizards Cavaliers Wizards-cavaliers Preview

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