CLEVELAND – The Wizards are out to avenge a disappointing home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time this season. Coach Randy Wittman was upset with his team’s defensive performance on Feb. 7, when Cleveland came to Verizon Center and won, 115-113, despite arriving without Luol Deng and on a six-game losing streak. Washington allowed the Cavaliers to score an opponent season-high 67 points at halftime.
“That’s got to a staple of ours,” Wittman said. “When we don’t come out from a defensive effort, we struggle. We’re not the type of team that come and take a night off defensively and then expect to win the game. That’s got to be our focus and when we do that, we’re pretty good.”
The Wizards responded to a 103-96 overtime loss to Cleveland on Nov. 16 by beating the Cavaliers, 98-91, four days later. They built a 27-point third-quarter lead but had to hold off a furious run by all-star point guard Kyrie Irving. In three games against Washington this season, the 2011 No. 1 overall pick has scored a total of 92 points.
Cleveland will have Deng for this meeting, but it will be without Dion Waiters (left knee) and C.J. Miles (left ankle), who combined for 42 points two weeks ago. Anderson Varejao is also out with a sore back. The Wizards (27-28) are out to even up their record overall and on the road (13-14) with a victory over the Cavaliers.
“We’ve come on the road this year and have played well on the road. That’s a step we needed to take the last couple of years,” Wittman said. “It’s been a struggle on the road. We’ve come out close to .500. we’ve learned what it took to play on the road and win on the road. And going through it, when you got guys that play a couple of years, they get an understanding of how it is to get to this position, to be one of the teams to make the playoffs. Those two things, I think were big for us.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: