Matchup: Washington Wizards (15-17) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (23-9)
When: Monday, 6:30 p.m. (TV: CSN, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra)
When last we met: The Wizards went into Cleveland without any clear momentum and yet handled the Eastern Conference leaders for a 97-85 win on Dec. 2. John Wall, eventually named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December, dropped 35 points and 10 assists on the Cavaliers.
Streaks: Just when it seemed Washington might be finding a groove, the Wizards have lost three of four games including Sunday's 97-75 drubbing by the Miami Heat. ...The Cavaliers are headed in the other direction. Kyrie Irving, six back from knee surgery, had 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Monday's 122-100 thumping over the Toronto Raptors, Cleveland' fourth straight win.
Three things to watch
Full house: Washington's win over Cleveland last month came with Bradley Beal in its lineup while Irving and guard Iman Shumpert were in street clothes for the Cavaliers. That's different now. While the Wizards remain nowhere close to full strength, the Cavaliers essentially have their core intact. "They’re getting back to full strength, adding Kyrie and Shumpert, two guys we didn’t face the first time," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said Tuesday when discussing the matchup. "They’re getting back. Makes them even better. It’s not so much Cleveland than us. As I said after Sunday’s game, from an offensive standpoint had a tough night. Our defense was pretty good. Doesn’t look good when you score 75 points because you’re always running the other way on misses. Looking back we had 15 wide-open shots that we missed. Those nights happen.” Of course, regardless of who Cleveland puts on the court, the main focus remains All-everything forward LeBron James. "You’d rather have other guys beat you than him," Wizards guard John Wall said. "You stop him you got guys. Kyrie can make plays. J.R. wasn’t making shots and Kevin wasn’t as aggressive. They pose a lot of matchup problems.”
Small ball for the win: One key in the earlier win over the Cavaliers involved the Wizards downsizing from bigs to wings and guards. Expect a similar look at times in the rematch. "We’re going to have to go to it," Wall said. "They kind of did a great job to get back into the game, they went small, put Tristan Thompson back into the game and tried to switch everything and played LeBron at the four. They’ll probably have more shooting out there than they did in the past.” Small ball for the Wizards could mean using Jared Dudley, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre in the frontcourt with some combination of Wall and another guard in the backcourt. Regardless of who plays up front, Wall against Irving is certainly one battle worth watching.
3-point bombing: That's bombing as in disaster. The Wizards found the range from distance during their four-game winning streak, but have lost the mark over the last four. In that stretch, Washington is 27 of 101 (26.7%) from beyond the arc. Wall (2 of 17), Garrett Temple (4 of 15) and Dudley (4 of 15) are the primary offenders.