The Wizards hope Butler will be back from a one-game absence Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers look for a third straight win after being boosted by Delonte West's season debut their last time out.
Washington (2-1) thought it was on the verge of being an annual contender in the Eastern Conference after losing a hard-fought six-game series to the Cavaliers (2-2) in the first round of the 2006 NBA playoffs. Instead, injuries to Butler and Arenas hampered the Wizards the next two seasons, which both ended with opening-round exits against Cleveland.
Arenas has averaged 28.0 points in his first three games after missing all but two games of the 2008-09 season due to knee injuries, but this time the team's other two All-Stars have been hurt. Antawn Jamison won't play for at least two more weeks after suffering a shoulder injury while trying to contest a shot from Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the preseason, and Butler missed Saturday's home opener against New Jersey with a bruised left knee suffered Friday.
Thanks to Arenas and Andray Blatche, Butler and Jamison weren't missed. Arenas scored 32 points and Blatche added a career-high 30 on 15 of 18 shooting in a 123-104 rout of the Nets.
"We've been waiting for this for four or five years now," Arenas said of the fifth-year big man, who scored 10.0 points per game last season but has averaged 21.0 through three games. "He finally decided this year was the year. He put in the work and it's showing."
Blatche might not have to step up as much Tuesday if Butler can return, and after an X-ray and an MRI were performed on the knee injured in Friday's loss to Atlanta, coach Flip Saunders says there's a "pretty good chance" Butler will be back.
The Cavaliers began the season 0-2, looking out of sync on both ends of the floor in losses to Boston and Toronto while trying to adjust to new additions Shaquille O'Neal, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon.
They looked better in a 104-87 win at Minnesota on Friday, and West made an impact Saturday. The troubled guard's return ended more than a month of drama that included personal problems, legal issues, and an unexcused absence, and he scored 13 points in 24 minutes off the bench in Cleveland's 90-79 victory over Charlotte.
"I've said it before that Delonte is one of those guys that doesn't need to do anything," said LeBron James, who was held to 14 points in 37 minutes. "He can sit out for two weeks and he comes back in and he's right in the flow. I've said it before, he is just that type of guy."
West's return also coincided with the best game of Mo Williams' first week. Limited to 16.0 points per game on 35.1 percent shooting in Cleveland's first three games, Williams was 9 of 14 and scored 24 on Saturday.
The Wizards split four meetings with the Cavaliers last season, with each team protecting home court twice. Arenas had 11 points and 10 assists in a 109-101 win at the Verizon Center on April 2, one of the two games he played.
James has averaged 28.4 points in leading the Cavaliers to 10 wins in their last 11 home games against Washington, including the postseason.