Preview: Wizards take on Cavaliers Friday night in Cleveland
On Friday, the Wizards take on the Cavaliers at 7:30 P.M. at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Washington is looking to close its best month of the season with another win, one that would be the team’s 10th in 11 games. Cleveland has lost eight of its last nine, including a five-point loss to Orlando on Wednesday and a nine-point loss to Washington earlier this week.
Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse | 7:30 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Raul Neto, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, C – Alex Len
Cavaliers: G – Collin Sexton, G – Darius Garland, F – Isaac Okoro, F – Kevin Love, C – Jarrett Allen
Wizards: Deni Avdija (right ankle fracture – out), (Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out)
Cavaliers: Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain – out), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion – out), Larry Nance Jr. (right thumb fracture – out), Taurean Prince (left ankle surgery – out), Collin Sexton (concussion – available), Lamar Stevens (concussion – out), Dylan Windler (left knee surgery – out)
Wizards and Cavs meet again
Washington and Cleveland’s meeting on Friday night will mark their second showdown of the week, following up on a back-and-forth, nine-point win for the Wizards on Sunday. No team led by more than nine in a game that featured nine lead changes. Washington trailed by as many as eight early in the fourth quarter before a late run led by Bradley Beal swung the game in their favor and earned the win. Beal scored nine of his 33 points in the final six minutes of the game and played a team-high 39 minutes.
Both teams were playing that night without key young starters. Rui Hachimura missed his fourth and final consecutive game with left knee soreness, but has since played in Washington’s last two games. Since his return, Hachimura is averaging 12.5 points on 60.0% shooting in 30.6 minutes per game. Cleveland was playing without starting point guard Collin Sexton, who has missed the last three games with a concussion, but is available for Friday’s game. With Sexton out earlier this week against the Wizards, fellow backcourt starter Darius Garland stepped up, totaling 28 points and nine assists.
Beal, Curry enter final weeks of scoring title race
With both the Wizards and Warriors in their final 10 games of the regular season, Beal and Stephen Curry are in the closing stages of one of the most tightly contested scoring races in NBA history. Beal is currently averaging 31.30 points per game, just 0.01 more than Curry’s 31.29. No scoring race in NBA history in which both players are averaging more than 30.0 points per game has been decided by fewer than 1.0 points per game.
Beal, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, is averaging 32.9 points on 49.4% shooting over his last 10 games, scoring 30-plus points in all but two of those games. In search of his second consecutive 30-point-per-game season and his first scoring title, Beal is also chasing down a franchise record. With 10 games to go, he’s 0.3 points behind Walt Bellamy’s single-season record for most points per game set in 1961-62.
Curry is averaging 37.5 points per game in his last 10, including a 53-point game against the Nuggets. The low point in that 10-game span was an 18-point outing against the Wizards in which the Washington defense held Curry to 7-25 (.280) from the field and 2-14 (.143) from three. Curry is looking for his second scoring title and the second 30-point-per game season of his career. He averaged 30.1 points per game during the 2015-16 season, beating out James Harden by 1.1 points per game.
Wizards begin crucial stretch of road games
Friday’s game in Cleveland marks the first game of a road back-to-back and a stretch of eight games in 13 days, seven of which will be on the road. With a two-game lead over Chicago and Toronto for the final place in the Eastern Conference Play-In and two games behind eighth-place Charlotte, Washington has a number of postseason scenarios on the table in the final weeks of the season, most of them dependent the looming road matchups. While the Wizards have generally struggled away from Capital One Arena, they enter the stretch having won three straight and five of their last six road games.