Feb 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Team Shaq guard Kyrie Irving (2) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against Team Chuck guard Bradley Beal (3) of the Washington Wizards during the first half of the rising stars challenge during the 2013 NBA All-Star weekend at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Game 11: Cleveland Cavaliers at Washington Wizards Preview

 

LAST TIME OUT

The Cavaliers fell at home 86-80 against the Charlotte Bobcats last night in yet another game where their perimeter defense cost them big time. Charlotte was able to hit eight threes on the night and also out rebounded the Wine & Gold 47-43. The loss – the first at home for Cleveland – dropped them to 0-2 against the Bobcats and 3-7 overall.

THIS TIME UP

The Opponent: Washington Wizards

Record: 2-6

Tipoff: Nov. 16, 7 pm at the Verizon Center

Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass

Where you can listen: WTAM 1100

Previous Matchup: A 101-82 loss in the preseason.

Opponent’s Blog: Wiz of Awes

How will Kyrie Irving preform against John Wall?

I’m still waiting for Irving to explode. The Cavaliers are 10 games in and Irving has yet to find his footing on offensive. Maybe it’s due to the coaching change. Maybe it’s the new system. Maybe he’s in his own head and isn’t confident in his teammates. I’m not sure what the real reason to his struggles are, but I do know this: the Cavaliers cannot reach their maximum potential without Irving being himself. Period.

Tonight, at the very least, gives us a check-in on the progressions of both Irving and John Wall. Both men are highly athletic and are amongst the growing crop of excellent young point guards. Their skill sets are different (Irving is far better shooter, Wall is better on defense, etc.), meaning that the can push each other in different ways. Tonight, I want to see how Irving handles the pick & roll’s that will surely be thrown at him in droves and I want to see how he responds to Wall’s imposing his size on him. Against the Wizards (who were without Wall) Irving scored 27.5 points per game and shot 40 percent from three. Can he do the same this season?

Can the Cavaliers score?

And by score, I mean can they score enough to resemble an NBA offensive. The Cavaliers, thus far, look like they have no semblance of fluidity on offense. They second least offensively efficient team in the NBA. They are 28th in the league in scoring. Irving is the only player averaging above 15 PPG. Only Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao are shooting above 50 percent. I could go one, but I think the picture is clear: This team is horrible on offense.

If they want to get back on track, Washington isn’t a bad place to start. They give up 104.8 points per game on average, are 18th in the league in defensive efficiency and don’t have a player capable of locking down Irving or anyone else for that matter. And while effective, I can’t see Nene, Marcin Gortat and Kevin Saraphin/Al Harrington being able to stop Andrew Bynum and company on the inside enough to truly limit their effectiveness.

This is a golden opportunity for the Cavaliers to get on track and finally look like an NBA offense. Let’s see if they can take advantage.

Stop the Otto Porter nonsense

Just a quick public service announcement: As dreadful as Anthony Bennett has been thus far, it is far too early to say the Cavaliers should have taken Otto Porter instead of Bennett. The rookie from Georgetown has been injured and yet to play in a game, something Bennett has at least done despite shooting 14.3 percent from the field.

We can look back in a few years and decide whether or not the Cavaliers made the wrong pick. By then, we will able to see if either player has developed well enough and blossomed into a piece for a contending team. Maybe the Cavaliers will regret taking Bennett in the same way I think they may end up regret passing on Harrison Barnes and Victor Oladipo, but even then it’s too early to second guess Chris  Grant.  Just wait. The time may come.

Prediction

The Cavaliers are winless on the road thus far and I think it stays that way against the Wizards tonight. Bynum retuning to the team should help, but the Wizards should have enough firepower to win this game. I expect that it will be close, with the Cavaliers doing a decent job of slowing down Wall and Beal, but they will get their share. And I just don’t know where Cleveland will be able to create their offense. Wizards by 6, 101-95.

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Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters John Wall Kyrie Irving

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