1. Both the Cavaliers and the Wizards were active at the trade deadline. Which team improved more as a result?
Chris Manning, Right Down Euclid EIC: Spencer (or as Austin Carr tweeted, Steve) Hawes will help the Cavaliers spacing, but the answer here is the Wizards. In acquiring the Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets, they’ve added a legitimate backup for John Wall and also another veteran presence in the locker room. And in terms of just improvement, Miller is a huge upgrade over both Garrett Temple and Eric Maynor. On the other hand, I’m not sure how much of an improvement Hawes will be over Tyler Zeller. Advantage, Wizards.
Ben Mehic, Wiz of Awes EIC: As a long time suffering Wizards fan, I don’t think they’ve ever had worse backup point guards than this season. Eric Maynor might be the worst backup guard in the league, and although Garrett Temple is a competent defender, he still doesn’t contribute much on the offensive end. I think the addition of Spencer Hawes could potentially help the Cavaliers, but I know without a doubt the Wizards upgraded their backup point guard spot. I don’t expect Andre Miller to put up ridiculous numbers, but he’ll definitely help stabilize the bench. It’s a toss up, but I’d probably say the Wizards improved more.
Trevor Magnotti, Right Down Euclid Staff Writer: The Wizards made a huge move for their playoff chances Thursday, and I think their acquisition of Andre Miller is far more of an advantage than the Cavs’ acquisition of Spencer Hawes. The Wizards’ backup point guard position has been so bad this year with Eric Maynor and Garrett Temple attempting to slap together 12-15 minutes of productive play per game, Miller should be an instant upgrade. Another veteran presence on their bench is also going to be a help. If Miller and Randy Wittman don’t clash, which is a possibility because they are both strong-minded individuals, Miller should be the type of player the Wizards’ bench has lacked this year.
2. Wizards guard Bradley Beal went 4-15 from the field in the previous matchup between these teams. Did the Cavaliers do anything specific to slow him down?
CM: One interesting aspect of Beal’s performance was that in his 15 shot attempts, Beal only took one shot from behind the arc. On a per game basis, Beal shoots 4.8 threes per game and struggling early didn’t help. We should expect Beal to perform better this time out simply because he’s not normally a player who shoots 4-15 from the field, but also because the Cavaliers may be without both Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles. Both Waiters and Miles are semi-pesky on defense and, if they can’t go, Beal will likely be able to get more open looks on offense, and as a result, make more shots.
BM: Bradley Beal has a tendency to settle for long twos, and that probably played a part in his bad shooting night. He’s struggled plenty of times this season, but given Cleveland’s sub par defense, I don’t think he’ll have another 4-15 night. Beal is due for another big scoring game and it could happen in Cleveland.
TM: The last game was more of a product of a poor shooting night than anything the Cavs did defensively. Beal really couldn’t get anything to drop early, and the Wizards quit running plays to get him shots, preferring to go with PNR for Marcin Gortat and looking for Trevor Ariza and a scalding-hot Martell Webster from deep. Dion played some great off-ball defense on Beal to facilitate this, but the Cavs’ defense wasn’t as much of a factor as Beal’s shot just not falling was.
3. Former Cavalier Earl Clark is reportedly on the Wizards radar. Should Washington look at bringing him in?
CM: Earl Clark is a frustrating player. Some nights, he looks like an athletic four who may struggle to rebound against more physical players, but he actually can hold on his. And then, at the drop of a hat, he will float around the perimeter of offense, jacking threes and failing to create his own shot. The Los Angeles Clippers could probably get more out Clark, but Washington would be a solid landing spot for him. Clark is at his best when he’s operating in a set role and not given the freedom to create his own offense. With the Wizards, Clark could be a bench guy that can run the floor and rebound in 15-17 minutes a game while providing depth behind Marcin Gortat, Nene and the other Washington
BM: I think Washington could use Earl Clark, but I don’t think he’ll end up in a Wizards uniform. Is he better than Trevor Booker? Probably not–leaving him buried at the end of the bench, just like Jan Vesely, who the Wizards traded to the Denver Nuggets before the trade deadline. Washington will probably decide to leave the 15th roster spot open, but they could use another center. Clark would be a decent fit with the Wizards since he could shoot from the outside, but I think the Wizards could use another big man more than anything. (Trevor, that was me on the Twitter account, by the way)
TM: I discussed this on Twitter with someone from Wiz of Awes yesterday, and was convinced that this would be a decent gamble for the Wizards to take. Clark fits what the Wizards need on their bench more than he fit the Cavs’ bench, and he could slide nicely into the minutes Vesely was getting. Clark’s spot-up tendencies would be helped by John Wall’s passing more than what he got from Kyrie and Jarrett Jack, and with Trevor Booker struggling, the Wizards need someone who can rebound well at the four. Clark can certainly do that, and if you’re okay with getting little other than that and one out of every threes he jacks up going in, that’s a move you have to make, if you’re Washington.