Washington Vs. Cleveland

ROUND ONE - Eastern Conference
Washington Wizards (7th seed) Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (2nd seed)

The Washington Wizards (41- 41) can score points in bunches. They scored an average of 104.3 PPG this season, the second-most in the NBA. Unfortunately, they gave up 104.9 PPG, the third-most in the league. The Wizards enter the post-season having lost eight of their last 10 games. Cleveland (50- 32), which has won four in a row, plays a fine two-way game and has one of the stingiest “D’s” in the league. Cleveland won the season series 2- 1.

The Washington offense could be where this series is decided. If they can control the tempo of the game and hit threes, they have a chance to win. But getting real reveals that such a scenario is unlikely. That’s because premiere point guard Gilbert Arenas (28.4 PPG, 6 APG, 1.9 SPG) injured his knee badly on April 4, pushing him out the post-season. That means that point guard Antonio Daniels (7.1 PPG, 3.6 APG, 0.5 SPG) must step up and provide the offense and defense.

Inside, forward Antawn Jamison (19.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 0.5 BPG) shows a smooth shot, while he ably hits from downtown 36% of the time. At center, Etan Thomas (6.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG) provides solid defense and adequate point production.

Cleveland has been resting some of its banged up players, including LeBron James, Zydrunes Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes, all of whom should be ready to play. James (27.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6 APG), at forward, continues to be a massive player on both offense and defense. Center Ilgauskas (11.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG) and power forward Drew Gooden (11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 0.4 BPG) are also fine two-way players. This trio should dominate the boards in this series.

Along the perimeter, shooting guard Larry Hughes (14.9 PPG, 3.7 APG, .333 3-P%) is a major part of the team’s outside game, while guard/forward Sasha Pavlovic (9 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG) gives the team versatility. Pavlovic has also become a good defensive player.

Washington will look to outrun the Cavs, but that will be difficult to do. Without Arenas, the Wizards will be hurting; that hole left by the star guard’s injury will be impossible for the team to fill. It’s the Cavalier’s series to lose.

Maddux Sports Series Prediction:

Cleveland Cavs in 4 Games

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