NBA Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
On the surface the upcoming match up between the Washington Wizards (2-6) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (3-6) seems like one of those games you may wish to simply wait for the highlights on ESPN instead of laboring through watching the game. But woe unto you who can’t see that the head-to-head face off between Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving and Wizards’ lead guard John Wall will be as entertaining a match up as any guard showcase you will see this year. But the intriguing match ups don’t stop there. The Wizards will brandish a formidable if not underachieving front court tandem that features C-F Nene and C Martin Gortat, as well as SG Bradley Beal and SF Trevor Ariza supplying wing scoring and defense respectively. If the NBA were an “on paper” league the Wizards would be a shoo-in to make the playoffs.
However, the same can be said for the Cavaliers as far as paper is concerned. Their roster features second year wunderkind PG Kyrie Irving as the master of ceremonies in their back court alongside the aggressive yet relatively tiny SG Dion Waiters-listed at 6-foot-4. In the tandem the Cavs have a pair of guards who are gifted at breaking down defenders off the dribble, with Irving being the better shooter and distributor of the duo-though his assist numbers aren’t nearly as good as they should be. Add veteran guard Jarrett Jack to the mix and you have a rotation of interchangeable and dangerous guards who give maximum effort more often than not. The Cavs also have a front court that features improved low post scoring from Tristan Thompson along with rebounding and stalwart defense from veteran forward Anderson Varejao. Once highly-touted big man C Andrew Bynum will likely see minutes in spot duty as well.
On paper (there’s that term again) these two teams appear as ready to roll as any other, but each has its own set of glaring weaknesses. A dearth of interior defense is perhaps primary among them for Washington with the ongoing absence of Emeka Okafor. Because of the guard match ups many of the “ohs” and “ahs” will take place on the perimeter as Irving and Wall do battle like two fighter planes would. The real war will be fought down in the trenches, and the trenches are where the Cavs have the slight advantage.
They are a team that gang rebounds (fourth in offensive rebounds) and currently can boast of the eighth best defense in the league because of that strategy. Cleveland ranks second in the league in steals as well. Aside from Nene and Gortat, both of whom are foul-prone, the Wizards don’t have enough bigs to compete with a Cavs squad that goes three deep at center and power forward. That’s not including first overall pick Anthony Bennett, who is still trying to figure out what whether he’s a three or a four. Bynum has been slowly coming along for the Cavs and scored 11 points while grabbing six rebounds against the Chicago Bulls recently. He missed Cleveland’s blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves but will be back for Saturday’s game. Cavs easily win by 10.
Ricardo Hazell is a freelance writer for Rant Sports based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.