Regular Season Game 75
Cavaliers (45-30) at Wizards (39-35)
ESPN and CSN
Believe it or not, with a win and a Pacers loss to the Bobcats tonight, the Wizards have officially clinched another playoff berth.
To get there, though, they face a real challenge against Cleveland. The good news is that Cleveland played an overtime game in a different time zone last night. The bad news is that they lost that game to Miami, and it put them behind Chicago for the second seed in the East. You have to think they'll be motivated to take that spot back tonight, because otherwise, they'll get the fifth seed and a likely series with Dwayne Wade and the Heat.
Cleveland can be as much of an enigma as a healthy Wizards squad, except in a totally different way. The Cavaliers do two things extremely well. They're one of the best rebounding teams in the league on both ends of the court. Led by the human rebound, Drew Gooden, and sparkplug Anderson Varejao, the Cavaliers are third in the league in offensive rebound percentage and fourth in defensive rebound percentage. The other thing they do extremely well is defend, as they're fourth in the league in efficiency and fourth in lowest efficient field goal percentage. This is a testament to Mike Brown, because other than maybe Larry Hughes and Eric Snow, the Cavaliers' aren't built around defensive-oriented players .
In many ways, Brown and Eddie Jordan are very similar. Both are heavily scrutinized by their fan bases despite making significant improvements over the teams' previous regimes. Both have done an amazing job on one end of the court, and a spotty job on the other. Jordan has done incredible things in getting the most out of the Wizards offense, but hasn't really gotten the Wizards to defend. Brown has done incredible things to get Cleveland to defend, but his new motion offense has been incredibly spotty. The reality is that both are very, very good coaches, but the jury is still out on whether they can lead a team to the top. With Gilbert Arenas and LeBron James as the alpha dogs on both clubs, fan bases should be expecting consistent title contenders rather than simply good teams.
The Wizards are going to start AD, Stevenson, Hayes, Jamison, and Thomas tonight. I'd expect Songaila to play a lot, and don't be surprised if there's a Donnell Taylor sighting. I'd argue that he shouldn't play, but they don't really have a choice at this point. This is one of those games the Wizards will really miss Andray Blatche, because I don't know who is going to guard LeBron. Eddie's best bet may be to play Hayes a lot and stick DeShawn on LeBron while playing Jarvis on Larry Hughes or Sasha Pavlovic. Either way, it's going to be a tough situation to deal with.
Cavaliers blogs: Cavalier Attitude
Your lines for tonight (there's a new over/under):
Cavaliers at Wizards: Cavaliers by 5.
Over/Under on number of Daniels assists + Thomas rebounds: 13.8*
This is an open game thread, so any Queen James comments go here.
*An approximation of their rebounds and assists per 30 minutes. It's not exact, and I don't really want to keep doing it, so let's just keep it as this number for the last 8 games.