Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers Preview
Thursday night’s matchup between the Wizards and Cavaliers is not exactly one that peaks excitement. Both teams are in rebuilding mode and will look to capitalize on the other. Cleveland is looking to put a stop to their skid of six losses in a row which includes back-to-back losses to other bottom of the east teams in the Knicks and Bulls. Cleveland has also struggled to protect their home court with a record of 6-15 at home. The Wizards haven’t been able to turn it around going 4-6 over their last 10 games. Washington will have to deal with a back to back on top of the fact that they lost a competitive game to the Heat on Wednesday.
Time: 6 PM CST
Arena: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Channel: Fox Sports Ohio, NBC Sports Washington
Wizards: Rui Hachimura (Out), Mortiz Wagner (Out), Garrison Mathews (Out), John Wall (Out)
Cavs: John Henson (Questionable), Brandon Knight (Questionable), Kevin Porter (Out), Ante Zizic (Questionable)
Washington Wizards Preview Starting Lineup
The Wizards will have to deal with the workload of a road back-to-back on top of the fact that their game against the Heat Wednesday was a very competitive overtime battle. The Wizards may face some fatigue, but they won’t get much help back with Hachimura. Wagner, and Mathews all expected to continue to miss time. They have gone to a super small lineup amidst their various injuries. Washington has been essentially running a 4-guard lineup with Thomas, Payton, Beal, and Bonga. It should be interesting to see if the Wizards stay small against a Cleveland frontcourt that has two elite glass cleaners in Love and Thompson.
On Wednesday, Bradley Beal continued to be the heart of the Wizards. He was responsible for 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Beal’s performance wasn’t enough to complete a miraculous comeback win against Miami. Washington dominated the second half outscoring the Heat by 19 points but couldn’t keep it rolling in overtime and ended up falling 134-129.
Along with Beal, Washington’s second-leading scorer, Davis Bertans, did his best to keep the Wizards in the game scoring 24 points. The Wizards will need some more scoring help from the rest of their starters on Thursday. Although they’ve struggled to stop opposing teams all year but as a team, they came away with 10 steals. It could be in for another good game in the passing lanes against a Cleveland team that allows the second most opponent steals in the league.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
The Cavaliers are coming off one of their most disappointing losses of the year and are at possibly their lowest point so far this season. They will look to take advantage of a fatigued Wizards squad but their performance on Monday against the Knicks shouldn’t inspire much hope. Cleveland was blown out at home against the Knicks who were 11-32 prior to their win at Quicken Loans. This loss extended their losing streak to 6 in a row which ties their second-longest of the year (8 is their longest).
Cleveland had an extremely poor performance against the Knicks and struggled immensely with their shot as you would expect with them only putting up 86 points. Cleveland shot a pitiful 34% (32-94) from the field. The Cavaliers backcourt made up of their last two first-round picks, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, had an especially poor showing. The pair of combo guards shot a combined 10-40 and 2-10 from behind the arc. They will need more from the pair on Thursday night. Sexton has shown improvement this year leading the Cavs in scoring but is looking more like an undersized two due to his lack of playmaking. Garland has flashed his potential but as a point guard is putting up an abysmal 1.4 assist to turnover ratio. Cleveland should look to Love and Thompson (had 22 rebounds on Monday) to take advantage of the undermanned Washington frontcourt.
Key Player Matchups
Bradley Beal vs Collin Sexton
This should be a matchup that we see on the wing often on Thursday. I assume Cleveland will use some different players on Beal defensively but no one on the Cavs has much of a chance of slowing down Beal. Sexton on the other end will get his chances and could be a good outing for both guards.
Bradley Beal is a player that I expect to have a great outing, as you would expect with his high price. He is the focal point of the Wizards offense and fills out the stat sheet well. Tristan Thompson is one of my favorite plays in this matchup and should give some great value for his price. I think Kevin Love will be productive in this matchup as well.
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