LAST TIME OUT
Friday night, the Cavaliers went to Toronto for the first time this season. As Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson’s moms sat courtside, the Cavaliers struggled offensively, but held the Raptors to 32 percent shooting in the first half. In the third quarter, however, the Raptors shot 69.5 percent and outscored the Cavs by 17, putting the game out of reach for a 98-91 win to snap the Cavs’ 6-game winning streak.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: Washington Wizards
Record: 26-28 (13-14 Road)
Tipoff: February 23rd at 6:00 p.m. – Quicken Loans Arena
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Meeting-Cavaliers 115, Wizards 113 on February 7th
Opponent’s Blog: Wiz of Awes
Mavericks: F Al Harrington (OUT-knee), F Glen Rice Jr. (OUT-wrist)
Cavaliers: C Anderson Varejao (OUT-knee, back, wrist), G Carrick Felix (OUT-Knee Fracture), G C.J. Miles (OUT-ankle), G Dion Waiters (OUT-knee)
Spencer Hawes’s first game in a Cavaliers uniform was a good one, for the most part. Hawes did not start, but saw 26 minutes of game action, putting up seven points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the loss to the Raptors. He also grabbed four offensive boards, which is always a good thing. He did not shoot particularly well, and struggled to defend Jonas Valanciunas in the second half, but there were several positives to Hawes being on the floor. Perhaps the largest was that the spacing was much improved when Hawes played as opposed to Tyler Zeller. Because of Hawes’s quality outside shooting touch, the Raptors defense was strained due to this drawing Amir Johnson or Jonas outside of the paint to guard him. Hawes was also very active in the offense outside of trying to score, getting incorporated into several set plays where he dished dribble hand-offs out to Luol Deng, Jarrett Jack, and Kyrie Irving. This plan was very effective and I’m eager to see what this looks like with C.J. Miles. Hawes’s debut was alright, and if he can correct his shooting slump he’s been in during the month of February, I’m confident he’s going to do some fun things for the Cavs’ offense.
Defend From the Outside-In
The Cavs got lit up from outside in their last meeting with the Wizards. Washington shot 11-20 from beyond the three-point arc on Feb. 7th, and that was led by known Cavalier-killer Martell Webster, who hit six threes in the previous meeting. While the Cavs’ offense clicked for the full game, this three-point shooting kept the Wizards in the game. With Dion and C.J. out of action tonight, a lot of the focus for the Wizards might be getting Bradley Beal and Webster quality looks from outside, because Jack and Matthew Dellavedova will probably be spending a majority of the game on these two. The Wizards will have a clear athletic advantage on the perimeter, and the Cavaliers need to make a point of keeping the Wizards from getting hot outside. Even if it results in big nights for guys like John Wall and Nene, we’ve watched the Wizards kill the Cavs far too many times from the perimeter to get burned by it again.
Class is in Session
The Cavs weren’t the only ones who made a move at the trade deadline. Gone are Eric Maynor and Jan Vesely (who were traded to Philadelphia and Denver, respectively) and into the fold comes the NBA’s foremost authority on dimes, Andre Miller. “The Professor” had a anticlimactic end to his time in Denver, where he had his impressive consecutive games played streak snap, and got all but removed from the rotation despite the Nuggets lacking depth at point guard due to injury. The Wizards, who have desperately needed a backup point guard behind Wall this season, will be a nice fit for the old man. Miller enters one of the most well-gelled locker rooms in the league, and on the court, he’s going to provide an excellent secondary ball-handler to captain what’s actually becoming a nice second unit for the Wiz. Miller made his debut last night against New Orleans, but I think he’s going to get major minutes in tonight’s game.
This should be an interesting game (which Cavs-Wizards always is) but I’m expecting the Cavs to win. The Cavs always play better at home, and the Wizards like to play up or down to their competition, and are on night two of a back-to-back. If the Cavs can keep Washington from hitting a ton of threes and get their offense going more consistently than we have seen lately, this should be a very tight game.