After a long break, the Wizards are back in action on Friday when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. As of February 20, the Wizard occupy the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Friday’s contest will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams. Washington won the last meeting on January 23 by the score of 124-112. Cleveland won the the first meeting back on November 8, 113-100.
The Wizards are currently 20-33 on the season and are just a few games back from the 8th seed Orlando Magic. It has been over a week since the Wizards last played, but the extended break could be what the team needs to make a late season playoff push.
Several Wizards participated in the All-Star festivities over the weekend. Davis Bertans had a strong performance in the three point contest. Rui Hachimura and Moe Wagner scored 14 and 16 points respectively in the Rising Stars Game.
Washington is currently on a two game winning streak. Their last game was a 114-96 victory over the New York Knicks on February 12.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a messy situation. As of February 20, the Cavaliers are last in the Eastern Conference with a 14-30 record. Cleveland has won two out of their last ten games. In their last game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Cavaliers won, 127-105.
Tristan Thompson led the way for Cleveland with 27 points, while Larry Nance Jr and Collin Sexton chipped in 23 points each.
On February 19, John Beilein resigned from his position as Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since his resignation, multiple stories have come out about his time as head coach. As we’ve seen with teams over the years, bad locker room chemistry can derail a team and lead to poor performances on the court.
Keys to the game
With the Cavaliers current state and their record, this looks like a game the Wizards should win – on paper, anyways. But the Wizards have lost games to teams they should beat.
We only have to go back to February 3 when the Wizards lost to the Golden State Warriors. With the playoffs in sight, Washington can’t afford to lose games in which they are the favorites.
The key to this game is to put the Cavaliers away as soon as possible. If this game is competitive down the stretch, Washington can still win because they have Bradley Beal. But why make the job more difficult?
If the Wizards can get out to a 10-15 point lead and maintain that pace for a good duration of the game, that will put them in a good spot. Basketball is a game of runs, so Washington needs to be ready for that as well.
Spread: Washington -6
Money line: Washington -250; Cleveland +210
Total Points: O/U 236.5