When: Thursday, February 22 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio
Win probability: Washington has a 35 percent chance of winning, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Wizards: John Wall (Out, Knee)
Cavaliers: Kevin Love (Out, Hand)
What to Watch for
How will Washington attack Cleveland’s new-look squad?
The Cavaliers made several big moves at the trade deadline to revamp a team that had fallen into disarray and the early results have been promising. George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., and Rodney Hood all hit the ground running and the Cavaliers who survived the purge have been re-energized. They beat the Celtics in Boston by 22 and then went to Oklahoma City and beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City prior to the All-Star break.
Cleveland’s revitalization is bad news for everyone except maybe the Wizards. Washington went winless against the old Cavaliers earlier in the season, thanks to LeBron going off for 57 in one game, and Kevin Love stepping up to score 25 in the other. So who knows, maybe all of the Cavaliers’ moves will actually make things easier for the Wizards. It wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in Washington’s wacky season.
If nothing else, Kevin Love’s absence should help. He’s been a thorn in the Wizards’ side in recently. In addition to his 25 point outburst in December, he also went off for 39 in their epic showdown last season. Without him on the floor, it will be easier for the Wizards to go small and not have to worry about Love hurting them on the low block.
A random moment in Wizards - Cavaliers history: John Wall sneaks in for the steal
The Wizards played the Cavaliers in the first game after the 2015 All-Star Game and got walloped 127-89 in a game that set the tone for the team’s struggles the rest of the regular season. They lost their first five after the break and went 13-15 to close the season after entering the break with a 33-21 record.
In the midst of the team’s struggles, there was one glimmer of hope that maybe things would be okay if they could just sneak into the playoffs: John Wall.