The Washington Wizards will begin the 2012-13 regular season on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers. To get you ready for tonight's season opener, here's a brief written preview. If you're more into video, peep the Google hangout we did with Conrad Kaczmarek of Fear The Sword.
When and Where Will the Game Be: It's at 7 PM EST in Cleveland, and it'll be on Comcast SportsNet.
Why You Should Care: Hello! It's the season opener! Also, Cleveland is a budding rival.
Are They Any Good: No. The Cavaliers went 21-45 last year with the point differential of a 17-49 team. When he was healthy, Kyrie Irving won a ton of games for them in the fourth quarter. When he got injured, their semi-promising season went in the toilet.
What Happened the Last Time We Saw Them: Behind a big performance from Bradley Beal, the Wizards won their first preseason game, 99-95, on October 13.
What They Do Well: They have Irving, and Irving is really, really good. Last year, Irving put together the kind of rookie season you just don't see from point guards, posting a 21.4 PER with a 56.6 true shooting percentage and a much smaller turnover percentage (16.1) than you see from most rookie point guards. (John Wall, by contrast, posted an 18.6 mark as a rookie). He's lethal in the pick and roll because he can step back and shoot, drive using either hand, deliver all the pocket bounce passes needed and finish creatively around the rim. His defense still has a ways to go, but we should all be able to admit that he's special.
What They Do Poorly: For a team we thought had a lot more shooting than the Wizards did last year, the Cavaliers didn't shoot very well. They were 29th in the league in effective field goal percentage, and that was with decent marksman like Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison. This year, they're starting Dion Waiters and Alonzo Gee on the wings, and both are known more for slashing than standstill shooting. Outside of Irving, the Cavaliers don't have a ton of shooters that can space the floor.
How the Wizards Match Up With Them: Why, Thomas has a very good post on this subject here. To add to that, I think the Wizards' bigs will match up well offensively, but with struggle to contain Anderson Varejao's dives to the basket and Tristan Thompson's offensive rebounding on the other end.
Who's Worth Watching: The battle between Beal and Waiters won't really be a battle, because that's not how basketball works. That said, both teams are hoping for a standout performance from their rookie, especially because they'll be compared to each other for years to come.
Are There Any Players Poised for a Breakout: I'm curious to see if C.J. Miles can give the Cavaliers a lift off the bench. He always had the talent, but never really put it together for the Utah Jazz. The Cavaliers really need him to provide some second-line scoring, so this is a good opportunity for him to produce.