Wake up, sleepyheads! After a nine day break, the Wizards are back in action this evening, and they won't have the luxury of easing back into the flow of things. First and foremost, they have to integrate new acquisition Ramon Sessions on the fly to pilot the team's second unit.
As of now, it remains unclear whether or not Sessions will be available for the Wizards this evening. There's still a few hurdles that need to be cleared. First, both he and Miller have to pass their physicals in order for Sessions to be available. After that, there's still the matter of Sessions getting to Washington. USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt reported yesterday that Sessions was planning on traveling out to Washington yesterday to join the team, so that helps things. But even if all those hurdles are cleared, there's still the question of how comfortable Wittman will be giving Ramon Sessions minutes this evening with minimal practice time. UPDATE: Sessions was not at shootaround today, so don't get your hopes up about seeing Sessions in uniform tonight.
The other reason the Wizards won't be able to ease back into things tonight is because FOUR-TIME MVP LEBRON JAMES AND THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS ARE IN TOWN. At the moment, the Wizards are a half-game up on the Cavaliers in the standings. Whoever wins tonight will take over the fourth spot in the East standings. Plus, the winner will have the advantage in head-to-head record, since the Wizards and Cavaliers have split their previous two meetings this season. If the Wizards win tonight, there's also the outside chance they could move up to the third seed, if Chicago loses on the road tonight against the Pistons.
Where and when: The Wizards are hosting the Cavaliers at the Verizon Center tonight at 8 p.m. You can watch the game on ESPN or CSN Washington. If you're out and about, you can join the #radioparty on 99.1 WNEW.
Who's out? Bradley Beal is still out with that stress reaction in his leg. His leg will be evaluated today, but there's still no timetable for his return. On the bright side, it does appear Kris Humphries will be ready to go after missing last Wednesday's game against Toronto.
For the Cavaliers, Anderson Varejao is out for the season.
Better call Betty White, because things are Hot in Cleveland: The Cavaliers have been on fire since their two trades to bring in Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, and LeBron James' return from injury. The Cavaliers have gone 14-3 since James' return. Yes, it helps that they've been going through the soft part of their schedule, but unlike earlier in the year, they're beating the teams they should be beating, and doing so with ease. Plus, during that stretch they also got some nice wins against elite teams like the Blazers, Clippers (twice) and the Thunder.
For more of a statistical breakdown on the Cavs, check out Brian Paratore's breakdown here.
How much can we take out of the first two times these teams played? Not much. When the Wizards beat the Cavaliers by 13, the Cavaliers still had Dion Waiters and LeBron wasn't himself. In their rematch less than a week later, the Cavaliers won with ease, but the Wizards didn't have Nene, their defensive cornerstone. Also, it was Bradley Beal's first game back in the starting lineup after messing up his wrist in the preseason.
Who's going to win? In the same way that we weren't able to take much out of the first two meetings this season, it's going to be hard to make much of what happens tonight, considering the Wizards will be without Bradley Beal and Garrett Temple will probably be handling most of the reserve point guard duties tonight. While the Wizards should give a spirited effort tonight, they'll need a lot more than a raucous crowd and focused intensity to slow down the Cavaliers. It should be a fun game, but they'll need Wall to have a superhuman game or hope Rasual Butler becomes combustible again if they want to turn this from a "Good job, good effort" game into a victory. Cavs by 6.