What a tough game to watch. A matchup between (now) two of the three-worst teams in the Association definitely had its fair share of turnovers, bench minutes and air-filled shots. However, the Washington Wizards are surprisingly on a six-game winning streak after winning tonight at Quicken Loans Arena, one of the only lottery teams not playing the “tank” game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their final home game on Fan Appreciation Night 108-97 to the Wizards. Despite the loss, Wednesday night’s game was more than just that. With veterans Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker likely playing their last game as part of the Cleveland family on Thursday, guard D.J. Kennedy seeing his first NBA minutes and for many players a final chance to say “thank you” to the Cavaliers organization.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who was limited to only 10 first-half minutes, played it safe against the Wizards. It was a game-time decision for Irving to start the game, but head coach Byron Scott listened to the rookie and threw him a handful of minutes. Although we didn’t get to see a lot of Irving vs. Washington Wizards sophomore guard John Wall, it looks to be one of the better match ups between players in the Eastern Conference.
Irving finished with five points, one rebound and one assist while Wall, who played a game-high 32 minutes, had a much more spectacular night. Wall had a double-double, which complimented a very impressive stat line. 21 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds and seven steals along with 7-16 shooting from the field and 7-8 from the charity stripe is nothing but a testimony to the young guard’s play Wednesday night.
Wall took control of the game, taking advantage of every lane mismatch that he saw. It was truly an inspiring performance from a team that has looked defeat in the eyes 46 times already. One game remains for the Cavaliers and Wizards, but Washington already has the second-worst record in the NBA locked up.
With the plethora of young guards becoming staple players on many teams in the East, head-to-head guard battles are going to become a staple of match ups in the East. Already Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose has set the bar high, but guards like Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday and Brandon Knight are on the up-and-up. All three of the latter named guards play for Central Division teams, meaning that Irving will have plenty of tough and challenging games to come.
The Cavaliers bench saw the bulk of the minutes, especially the newcomer Kennedy. He played a team-high 31 minutes, adding 12 points, six rebounds, three assist and two steals. Everything about his shot release was perfect, shooting 5-6 from the field and 2-2 from trey land. Kennedy definitely made a following Wednesday night at the Q, but we’ll have to wait and see if the Cavaliers organization feels the same way.
Overall Kennedy displayed great form tonight, showing that he already has some basic mechanics down pat. Working on and establishing a mid-range jumper for himself could secure him a spot on the roster next year, but a tough summer is ahead for the former D-Leauger and Erie Bayhawks guard.
The guard play, with Irving and guard Daniel Gibson missing extended periods of playing time, has shown a lot of promise during the second half of the season. Donald Sloan, who may have had the best audition out of the guards this season, had eight points, seven assists and three rebounds off the bench. Don’t be surprised if his face pops up a lot next year.
And of course I saved the best for last. Although Jamison’s night was cut short due to an ankle injury, it was still a bittersweet moment. The Cavs have already entered the rebuilding process, and veterans like Parker and Jamison are most likely not part of that picture. It has been a great season for Jamison (averaging 17.4 points and 6.3 rebounds) and a disappointing one for Parker (averaging 7.3 points and 2.4 assists).
It’s sad to see these great leaders leave the organization, but there has to be a time to move on. That time is, unfortunately for them, now. I wish them the best of luck in finding work with other teams (if that’s what they wish). Thanks for all you’ve done for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers will finish off this short 66-game season with a matchup against the Chicago Bulls Thursday night. Make sure to keep up with Right Down Euclid during the Cavaliers offseason. A lot of playoff talk and offseason stories to come.