Wizards (30-30) @ Cavaliers (42-17)
The Cavaliers needed the win they got on Monday night against the Pacers after struggling to gain traction in the final stretch of the season. In their impressive win against the Pacers, defense was the focal point in the fourth quarter when Tristan Thompson blocked shooting guard Rodney Stuckey on a drive to the hoop to potentially tie the game. After finding it hard to stop the stars of previous matchups, Washington and Toronto, they were able to keep Paul George from exploding for 40 points. After being man-handled by John Wall and the Wizards earlier in the week, the Cavs will play at home and host Wall and his Wizards for the final time this season, hoping to tie the series at 2-2.
Starting Friday night only 0.5 games back from the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards will look to try and sneak into the playoffs by the end of the night. This season can be tabbed as disappointing for Washington after making it to the semi-finals last year. They can attribute their setbacks to Bradley Beal being hurt for the majority of the season and the departure of veteran Paul Pierce.
The Wizards will look to try and salvage the season by turning in an over .500 month of March and April. The Wizards have won four straight and that can be pointed to the fact that they are experiencing an unusual stretch of health in the last two weeks. John Wall has continued his dominance this season and will look to abuse Kyrie Irving one more time in their final regular season matchup.
The Cavs lost two out of three, LeBron sends out cryptic tweets and everyone lost their mind. LeBron James spent his three-day break in Miami to workout with ex-teammate Dwyane Wade and everyone now thinks that LeBron is going to leave…JUST STOP IT! Kyrie Irving was also cited to be unhappy in Cleveland this week and that he wanted to go somewhere else to play because he wasn’t happy with his experience thus far…JUST STOP IT! Every time the Cavs hit a rough patch in the season, rumors pop up from out of nowhere. The Cavs have showed that they are able to ignore the rumors and play through them. Although asked, James has yet to address the meaning of the tweets that he has sent out and Kyrie Irving was quick to dismiss the rumors of him wanting out of Cleveland.
Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers– Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, Ohio
Game Start: 8:00 p.m. TV – ESPN
Projected Starting Lineups
PG: Kyrie Irving: 19.0 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.8 RPG
SG: JR Smith: 12.6 PPG, 1.5 APG, 2.9 RPG
SF: LeBron James: 24.9 PPG, 6.6 APG, 7.2 RPG
PF: Tristan Thompson: 7.8 PPG, 0.8 APG, 9.5 RPG
C: Timofey Mozgov: 6.4 PPG, 0.4 APG, 4.5 RPG
PG: John Wall: 20.0 PPG, 9.9 APG, 4.8 RPG
SG: Garrett Temple: 7.6 PPG, 1.8 APG, 2.6 RPG
SF: Otto Porter Jr.: 11.8 PPG, 1.8 APG, 5.2 RPG
PF: Markieff Morris: 11.6 PPG, 2.4 APG, 5.2 RPG
C: Marcin Gortat: 13.7 PPG, 1.5 APG, 10.0 RPG
Players to Watch For:
C Marcin Gortat
Marcin Gortat is labeled as one of the quietest double-double guys in the league as he averages just a smudge over 10 rebounds a game. Nicknamed the “Polish Hammer,” Gortat has showed lately that he is one of the reasons, along with teammate John Wall, that the Wizards have won four straight and are breathing down the Detroit Pistons’ neck for the final spot in the playoffs. For the month of February, Gortat averaged 14.9 PPG and 10.7 RPG and finished off the month with an impressive performance against the 76ers last Monday when he dropped 18 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, a season high for Gortat. With Kevin Love being out for the Cavs, Gortat will look to lead the game in rebounds.
SF LeBron James
When the Cavaliers played the Wizards last Sunday, LeBron James sat out due to rest. This time, LeBron will play but Kevin Love will be sitting due to rest. The Cavs were steamrolled by 14 points when James sat out and it showed that LeBron is the most valuable player in the league. James has played outstanding in his two games against the Wizards this season averaging 29 PPG, 4 APG and 11.5 RPG. Those numbers were sorely missed when the Cavs were dominated by the Wizards. James, however, has found troubles keeping ahold of the ball in the games that the Cavs has lost this season, averaging 4.1 TPG when they lose compared to 2.5 TPG when they win. An example of the poor ball control is his nine turnovers in the first game this season against the Wizards, which was the Cavs first home loss of the season. Expect James to attack the hoop and try and get going early like he did against the Pacers on Monday, James finished with 33 points.
- Mo Williams: (Knee) OUT
- Kevin Love: (Rest) OUT
- Gary Neal: (Leg) Day to day.