Regular Season Game 79
Wizards (42-36) at Cavaliers (48-30)
April 5, 2018 at 8:00 PM Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, OH
Radio: 1500 AM
Odds: CLE -5.5
(Photo: Jonathan Newton via The Washington Post)
What to Watch:
John Wall’s Message
After the Rockets blasted past the Washington Wizards in Houston on Tuesday night, John Wall said he wanted to play versus Cleveland and Boston to send a message. The Cavaliers had a rocky start to the season, but now they have found their way and are 9-1 over the last 10 games. Most recently, Cleveland defeated the top-seeded Raptors as LeBron James chimed in with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. Wall had a rough night in Houston but vows to prove the Wizards should be taken seriously. Washington will face both Cleveland and Boston before the season concludes.
LeBron James vs. Wizards’ Non-Existent Defense
Washington allowed Chicago to score 68 points in the first half on Sunday and Houston to drop 71 points before intermission. Now, they are facing James who is averaging 30.1 points in 37.9 minutes over the last 10 games. If Washington plans on making a statement, then the team must play some defense. Earlier in the year, James dropped 57 points against the Wizards. However, after All-Star Break, the Wizards did show that when they play as a unit and practice good habits that they can defeat the Cavaliers. They did that without John Wall, too. With the Cavs being a possible playoff opponent, it is imperative Washington plays at an elite level.
No one is expecting him to be perfect, but Oubre must impact this game in some meaningful way. Yes, his shots are not falling; however, if he can play defense and force some turnovers, grab some boards and block some shots, those little things can go a long way. Oubre says he brings it every night, and he is being honest when he makes that statement. At the same time, it must show in the stat line. If Washington wants to win this game, he must have a good game. The last time these two teams matched-up, Oubre finished with 17 points in 32 minutes. Additionally, he had 5 rebounds and was a net +15. It is this style of play that can make the difference for the Wizards.
Ty Lue Returns
Coach Lue has been dealing with personal health issues and took a leave of absence in mid-March. Now he is expected to return according to multiple reports. Lue returning to the sidelines is a good thing for the league as a whole. Sometimes coaches are undervalued when they lead star players like James. Nevertheless, the amount of scarifies Lue and others put into their crafts should be respected. He is due a standing ovation at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night.
Wall’s confidence is admirable and that is what a leader of a team should say. However, James is sending a message not just to the Eastern Conference, but the league as a whole. Regardless of everything, if anyone wants to be the 2018 champions they must go through Cleveland. This game will be on TNT and James will make that message known to the world. Washington has not shown they are capable of winning against Cleveland with the play they have displayed over the last few weeks and will lose their third straight game.