Washington Wizards 2019-2020 Season Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Jordan Clarkson (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Jordan Clarkson (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Can the Washington Wizards pull off a series sweep against the Cavaliers in a down-trending year for Cleveland?

Washington’s record against Cleveland last year: 2-2

Cleveland Cavaliers lost: JR Smith, Alec Burks, Jaron Blossomgame

Cleveland Cavaliers added: Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, Kevin Porter Jr, Sindarius Thornwell, Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot, and (a healthy) Kevin Love

The Washington Wizards are in somewhat of a tough situation, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are literally stuck between a rock and a hard place moving forward. That should allow Washington some favorable matchups later in the 2019-2020 season.

After Kyrie Irving requested a trade back in 2017, LeBron James ran it back once more with the Cavaliers in hopes of securing a second championship for the city. They were swept in the 2018 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors, and the rest is history.

James left for the Los Angeles  Lakers in free agency, and Kevin Love is the only remaining All-Star talent from the 2016 championship team. They’ve drafted high in the lottery two years in a row, but it’s apparent their rebuilding process is far from finished.

After a 19-63 season, the Cavaliers are hoping some fresh legs in their two first-round draft picks, and a healthy Kevin Love will provide a better year for 2019-2020.

Wizards to Watch

These matchups are tricky, because they’re the kind of games in which the Washington coaching staff may elect to rest Bradley Beal. If not, he’s the number one guy to watch.

Beal had his way with the Cavaliers last season, even if it didn’t always result in a Wizards win. In their four-game series, the All-Star guard averaged 25.7 points and seven assists! That’s including a memorable 25-point, 13-assist night in a February win over Cleveland.

If Beal does happen to sit for any of the games versus the Cavaliers, Thomas Bryant will be worth keeping an eye on.

His battle with Cleveland center Tristan Thompson could be telling in just how far he’s come in his two seasons in the league. In the Wizards four games against the Cavaliers last year, Bryant tallied double-digit points just once, with a 13-point performance in the same February win during which Beal recorded a double-double.

Additionally, revenge games are always fun. And history won’t let anyone forget that Cleveland traded Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and a first-round pick.

Thomas is a Wizard now, and his time in Cleveland didn’t necessarily go as planned. He was traded to the Lakers before the season ended, after an underwhelming return from injury. Some might say Thomas never really had a fair chance in Cleveland. Now in Washington, and (hopefully) healthy, Thomas could get the last word in with the Cavaliers.

Game Predictions

November 8th, 2019: Wizards Host the Cavaliers

At that point in the season, so early on, it’s unlikely either Cleveland or Washington has really found a rhythm. Pure talent alone suggests the Wizards can pull this one off, and start the season series on the right foot.

January 23rd, 2020: Washington goes to Cleveland

This point of the year could see a fully established Cavaliers backcourt and healthy/grooving Kevin Love. The Quicken Loans Arena gets loud, and it’s the second night of a back-to-back for Washington. Cleveland pulls this one out.

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February 21st, 2020: Final Matchup in Washington

For their last season matchup, both teams will be coming in fresh from rest in the All-Star break. Still, with the odds even on that end, the Wizards will come out stronger and start the second leg of their season with an impressive opening win.