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News » Wizards-Cavaliers Preview


Wizards-Cavaliers Preview


Wizards-Cavaliers Preview
With the second-best record in the league and a significant lead atop the Central Division, this season could not have started much better for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The same cannot be said for the Washington Wizards.

In the teams' first meeting since last season's playoffs, LeBron James looks to help the Cavaliers extend their best start in club history on Christmas when they host the lowly Wizards, who are in the midst of their worst start in franchise history.

Cleveland (24-4) has made a habit out of knocking Washington (4-22) out of the first round of the playoffs, doing it each of the last three seasons, but the Cavs will likely have to find a new team to torment in this year's postseason.

After finishing second to Detroit in the Central each of the past three seasons, Cleveland has opened up an eight-game lead over the Pistons this year. With James leading the way, the Cavs have won 23 of their last 25 games, and are looking like the biggest threat to Boston in the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards, meanwhile, finished second in the Southeast Division each of the last four seasons, but are already 17 games back of division-leading Orlando.

Washington, which is without three-time All-Star Gilbert Arenas (left knee), is coming off an 80-72 loss at Charlotte on Tuesday to set a franchise record for its worst start in its 48-year history.

"I just have to keep working at different things and keep us collected and keep us focused and keep us positive," Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said.

The Cavs have had no trouble staying focused, as they defeated Houston 99-90 on Tuesday to win their fourth in a row.

James scored 27 points - 18 in the second half - and made one of the defining defensive plays of his career by pinning Yao Ming's shot against the backboard in the fourth quarter

"We know as a team that we are a very good defensive group and I know that I'm a very good defensive player, and we're just going to try and get better on that end of the floor," said James, who is averaging 30.5 points in his last eight games. "I'm going to keep watching and scout teams and the individual players I have to guard. We'll see what happens."

James averaged 29.8 points and 9.5 rebounds in the six-game playoff series against the Wizards last season.

The Cavs are the league's only undefeated team at home, as they've opened the season with a franchise-record 14 straight wins in Cleveland. They are first in the NBA in scoring defense at home (89.3 points per game).

The Wizards are just 1-10 on the road on the season, and have lost seven straight games overall by an average of 15.2 points since a 107-94 win over Detroit on Dec. 9.

Washington shot a season-low 32.2 percent from the floor on Tuesday, and is averaging 87.1 points on 39.7 percent shooting during its losing streak. It has been even worse on the road lately, averaging 78.3 points on 35.5 percent shooting in its last three road games.

"You've got continue to play hard and work yourself out of this funk," said Caron Butler, who scored 31 points Tuesday.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 25, 2008

 

 
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