Cleveland Cavaliers (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Washington Wizards (2-7 SU, 2-7 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday, November 18, 2009, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cavaliers -4.5/Wizards +4.5
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The Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards have created a rivalry over the past few years. There is plenty of trash talk when these teams meet up. Naturally, the Wizards aren’t too fond of a team that eliminated them from the playoffs three straight years from 2006-2008. The Wizards will hope to even up the season series when they host the Cavs on Wednesday night.
In 2005-06, the Wizards beat the Cavs in three of their four regular season matchups and then the Cavs won the first round playoff series in six games. In 2006-07, they split two regular season matchups and then the Cavs swept the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. In 2007-08, the Cavs and Wizards split four regular season games and the Cavs again eliminated the Wizards in the first round, this time in six games. Last season, the teams again split four games in the regular season.
This year, it’s the second time the two teams are meeting. In their first matchup, November 3 in Cleveland, the Cavs won the game, 102-90. LeBron James had a typical game with 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Actually, that’s below his points and assists averages of about 28 and eight, respectively. Shaquille O’Neal had 21 points and eight rebounds in that game. Mo Williams added 15 points and six assists, and Anderson Varejao had 10 points and 10 rebounds. For the Wizards, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler led the way with 22 points each. Mike Miller was the only other Wizard in double figures with 12 points. The whole Wizards team rebounded well and held a 48-42 rebounding advantage over the Cavs. The Cavs killed the Wizards with their 3-point shooting, hitting 11-of-26 from beyond the arc, including a 4-for-5 mark for Daniel Gibson off the bench. That was probably the difference in the game, as the Cavs won the game by 12.
The Wizards recently signed diminutive guard Earl Boykins. He scored 20 points and dished out three assists in his first game with the Wizards, a 106-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. He gives the team an extra scoring threat and ball-handler in the backcourt. His presence will probably decrease DeShawn Stevenson’s minutes. It takes some pressure off Randy Foye and Arenas, allowing both of them to play more off the ball when Boykins is in the game.
The Cavs need to rebound better this time around to win the game. The Wizards crashed the boards as a team last time they played the Cavs, and that is something the Cavs will need to do. Shaq, LeBron, Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas all need to focus on grabbing boards. J.J. Hickson only played four minutes when these teams met last time, but he has had his best two games of the season in the last two games, scoring 18 points against the Heat and 20 points against the Jazz. His presence in the frontcourt is a big boost for the Cavs. For the Wizards to win this game, they need to continue to rebound well but they also need to do a much better job defending the 3-pointer. If Williams, Gibson and Anthony Parker get going from beyond the arc, it’s game over for the Wizards.
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The Cavs are 4-1 ATS on the road this season. The Wizards are 1-3 ATS at home and 1-4 ATS as an underdog this season. The Wizards are 0-5 ATS in their last five games overall, and the total has gone under in five of their last six games. The Cavs have won five games in a row, but none of them have been by double digits. The Wizards have lost six in a row, and four of them have been by double digits.
Ryno’s Pick: These teams typically play well against each other, making for a tight game. But the Cavs are clearly playing much better than the Wizards right now. It’s hard to take a team on a six-game losing streak to cover a fairly tight spread against a team on a five-game winning streak. LeBron and the Cavs take games against the Wizards seriously because of the intense rivalry. Take the Cavaliers -4.5.