LeBron James has a lot of new teammates on their way to Cleveland. Problem is, they won't be able to join him on the court Friday.
That leaves the Cavaliers with a very short bench for their game against the Washington Wizards, hours after a blockbuster trade sent half the team packing.
"We do have LeBron," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "So that does help out."
An 11-player deal involving three teams shortly before Thursday's trade deadline saw the Cavaliers acquire Ben Wallace and Joe Smith from Chicago, as well as Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from Seattle. Cleveland (30-24) had to give up Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble, Shannon Brown and Cedric Simmons.
"I was sad to see those guys go," Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. "We'll have to see how it all works out."
James has not yet commented on the deal, which Cavs general manager Danny Ferry said was necessary to give his team a shot at an NBA title.
While Wallace should help defensively and on the boards, Smith and Szczerbiak will be counted on to take some of the scoring burden off James.
However, none of the newcomers will be available for this matchup, and that left the Cavs with just six healthy players until they signed Kaniel Dickens and Billy Thomas from the NBA's Developmental League on Friday.
"I've never been in a situation where we called guys up just to be able to play a game," Cavs guard Eric Snow said. "It's the NBA, I can't say I'm surprised."
James will have to really carry the load on Friday after doing a pretty good job of it in Cleveland's last two games, posting triple-doubles in both.
He led the Cavaliers to a 106-97 win over Indiana on Wednesday, as he finished with 31 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.
That performance came one night after he had 26 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in the Cavs' 93-85 home loss to Houston. In nine games this month - not including his 28-point effort Sunday that led to his second All-Star MVP award in three years - James is averaging 30.4 points, 9.2 boards and 8.6 assists.
"LeBron - what can I say? He's the MVP. He's the MVP this year. I don't care how many games are left or what not," Brown said. "This guy is terrific. He just does everything out on the floor."
James missed Cleveland's first game of the season against the Wizards, a 105-86 loss on Dec. 5, because of a sprained left index finger. In the only other meeting on Jan. 23, James had 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 121-85 home victory, the Cavs' most lopsided win of the season.
Cleveland has won three of its last four home games against Washington, but it hasn't had much success at Quicken Loans Arena lately.
The Cavs have lost three straight home games by an average of 15.0 points since defeating league-best Boston 114-113 on Feb. 5. They have not dropped four consecutive home games since March 2-11, 2003 - three months before Cleveland selected James first overall in the draft.
The Wizards (25-28) have been struggling to win lately regardless of where they're playing.
Washington lost to New York 113-100 in overtime on Tuesday, its ninth defeat in 10 games. Its only win in that span was a 91-89 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in the final game before the All-Star break, ending an eight-game road losing streak.
On Jan. 29, the Wizards were 2 1/2 games behind Southeast Division-leading Orlando, but now they are 7 1/2 games back. Washington still has the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference, but there are several teams right behind.
"Atlanta's gotten better. Philly's playing well. Chicago's going to make a run," said All-Star forward Antawn Jamison, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds against the Knicks. "We've got to play with a sense of urgency because if we don't, things are going to get out of hand. We've got 29 games left, and they're going to fly by."
All-Star forward Caron Butler has missed six straight games and nine of 11 with a strained left hip flexor, and his status is uncertain for this contest. The Wizards are 2-8 this season when he doesn't play.
"I'm trying to remain optimistic about getting out there, but at the same time I've got to see how I feel," Butler said. "I need to feel good in practice. Pain free."
Butler has 37 points and 12 rebounds in this season's series with the Cavs, while Jamison has been held well below his season averages with 13.5 points and 7.5 boards per meeting.
Stats at a Glance
|News | Players | Stats | Schedule||News | Players | Stats | Schedule|
|1, Sat., Apr. 19||CLE, 93||WAS, 86||Cleveland 1-0||Box Score Recap|
|2, Mon., Apr. 21||CLE, 116||WAS, 86||Cleveland 2-0||Box Score Recap|
|3, Thu., Apr. 24||WAS||CLE||First Round|
|4, Sun., Apr. 27||WAS||CLE||First Round|
|5, Wed., Apr. 30||CLE||WAS||if necessary|
|6, Fri., May. 02||WAS||CLE||if necessary|
|7, Sun., May. 04||CLE||WAS||if necessary|
|Full Playoffs Schedule|
|Tonight's Games||Time (ET)||Nat TV||Game Notes|
|Sacramento @ Charlotte||7:00 pm||NBALP||SAC||CHA||Preview|
|Philadelphia @ Orlando||7:00 pm||NBALP||PHI||ORL||Preview|
|New Jersey @ Indiana||7:00 pm||NBALP||NJN||IND||Preview|
|Toronto @ New York||7:30 pm||RTV NBALP RTVHD||TOR||NYK||Preview|
|Washington @ Cleveland||8:00 pm||ESPN||WAS||CLE||Preview|
|Milwaukee @ Detroit||8:00 pm||NBALP||MIL||DET||Preview|
|Denver @ Chicago||8:00 pm||NBALP||DEN||CHI||Preview|
|Dallas @ Memphis||8:00 pm||NBALP||DAL||MEM||Preview|
|Houston @ New Orleans||8:00 pm||NBALP||HOU||NOH||Preview|
|Boston @ Phoenix||10:30 pm||RSNP ESPN||BOS||PHX||Preview|
|Utah @ L.A. Clippers||10:30 pm||NBALP||UTA||LAC||Preview|
|Atlanta @ Golden State||10:30 pm||NBALP||ATL||GSW||Preview|
|Portland @ Seattle||10:30 pm||NBALP||POR||SEA||Preview|
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|created: 04/23/2008 06:32 pm|