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Three Keys: Cavaliers vs. Wizards

Keys to the Game presented by: Key Bank


Key: Defend the Land

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The Cavaliers’ five-game homestand rolls on, with Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook and the red-hot Wizards rolling in for a Friday night matchup at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Again down several rotational players to injury, the Wine & Gold returned from a three-game road trip and got off to a rough start to the homestand – falling behind by 23 points to Orlando before mounting a furious fourth-quarter rally that saw them tie the contest with a minute to play, only to see the Magic score the game’s final five points.

The Wizards have continued their late-season surge towards the Play-In round. After dropping a wild overtime contest to the Spurs to see their eight-game win streak snapped, Washington returned to its winning ways on Wednesday – dropping the World Champs in D.C. Scott Brooks’ squad now plays seven of their next eight on the road – beginning with tonight’s contest in Cleveland.

Cleveland dropped its first meeting of the season with the Wizards five nights ago in D.C. – hanging with Washington until the final three minutes before falling late, with some costly fourth-quarter turnovers and a 51-14 bench advantage being the difference.


Key: Triple Trouble

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There are players in the league that are doing great things and there are those doing historic things. Russell Westbrook is in the latter category.

In Wednesday’s win over the Lakers, the 13th-year man from UCLA has now posted 13 triple-doubles this month -- breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record. For his career, he’s tallied 176 trifectas – now just six away from passing Oscar Robertson for most in NBA history.

In the month of April, the nine-time All-Star is averaging 21.2 points, 13.4 rebounds and 12.1 assists per in 16 games. One of the only games in which Westbrook didn’t triple-dip was against the Cavs on Monday night, finishing with 14 points, 11 helpers and five boards.

Darius Garland hasn’t had a Westbrook-sized month of April – what player has? – but the shifty sophomore from Vanderbilt has been outstanding as his second season winds down, averaging 21.1 points and 7.6 assists in 14 outings.

Garland has had to pick up the scoring slack with Collin Sexton on the shelf, along with the distribution duties with Delly also unavailable.

He’s done both – leading Cleveland with 25 points in Wednesday’s loss, his seventh 20-point outing in the last eight games. Garland – who led the Cavs with 28 points in the recent loss to Washington – has also handed out 10 dimes in each of his last two games, 29 over his last three.


Key: Large, In Charge

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Jarrett Allen missed the first half of April with a concussion, but since he’s found his rhythm, he’s been outstanding to close the month.

The 22nd overall pick in 2017, Allen doubled-up for the second time in his last three outings, finishing with 17 points, a game-high 13 boards and a pair of blocks in Wednesday’s loss to the Magic. His overall energy on both ends got Cleveland back into the game after digging itself a hole through three quarters.

In the nine games since his return, Allen is averaging 14.3 points and 9.8 boards with four double-doubles in the mix.

The most impressive of those outings came earlier this week against these Wizards – going off for a career-high 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go with 12 boards, grabbing seven of those off the offensive glass, adding two assists, two steals and three blocks.

For the Wizards, Alex Len has had an up and down year in his eighth season after going No. 5 overall back in 2013, but he’s been very good over his last two outings, averaging 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per.

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