The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-110 on Sunday night. Here are five observations from what went down...
Best win streak in 20 years
The last time the Wizards won eight consecutive games, Deni Avdija was an infant and their starting shooting guard was a fellow by the name of Michael Jordan. That was until Sunday night when the Wizards came back to beat the Cavaliers to push their season-best winning streak to eight games, which now has them just one short of the franchise record.
The Wizards have also now won 10 of their last 11 games and they are 10-1 in games Daniel Gafford plays. They are defending, making threes and trending upward quickly.
With the win, the Wizards created a bit more separation in the play-in tournament standings. With the Bulls and Raptors both not playing on Sunday, Washington is now a full two games ahead in the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference.
Bradley Beal went off
After Bradley Beal torched Lu Dort, one of the NBA's best young wing defenders, on Friday, it became clear that he's really in a groove, the type where no matter who is defending him, it's probably going to be a long night. Cedi Osman drew the assignment for the Cavs and, predictably, he had a lot of trouble keeping up with the Wizards All-Star.
Osman face-guarded Beal and had the help of double-teams, but none of it worked. Beal used backdoor cuts and screens to get separation and he didn't need much of it to score. Beal had 33 points, including 20 in the first half alone. He shot 13-for-24 from the field and added six rebounds. It was the type of game that should help Beal's cause in the race for the scoring title, though Stephen Curry will have the last say of the night with a 10 p.m. start against the Kings.
Anthony Gill got the start
Anthony Gill was a standout in the Wizards' win over the Thunder on Friday night in what was a rare opportunity for him with Deni Avdija out. Gill apparently played so well he earned the chance to start on Sunday against Cleveland.
Head coach Scott Brooks put Gill in there with Rui Hachimura still out with left knee soreness. It was part because of how well Gill performed in the last game and also he liked the match-up between Gill and Cavs big man Kevin Love.
Gill did his job with five points in 14 minutes on 2-for-4 shooting. He played physical defense and knocked down an open three. It was an all-around solid performance for Gill, who seems to be building confidence by the game. Maybe even when Hachimura returns, with Avdija out for the season, Gill can keep a role in the rotation.
Daniel Gafford, Robin Lopez stood out
The three-center rotation is unorthodox, but it keeps working for the Wizards. As Alex Len struggled against the Cavs' athletic bigs, the Wizards turned to Gafford, who had another big night with 12 points and six rebounds. And when the Cavs went small, the Wizards countered with Robin Lopez, who feasted in the paint with 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
All three of the Wizards centers do something different and often times Brooks can find the hot hand just by rotating them in and out. Sometimes, like on Sunday, he finds more than one who can make an impact.
Gafford's defense also stood out in this one, per usual. He had four blocks and four steals, becoming the first Wizards player to do that in 17 years, since Brendan Haywood in 2004.
Most impressive was how Gafford hustled back on defense even on fastbreaks where the Cavs had numbers. He doesn't give up on plays and that's an excellent trait to have.
Cleveland was without promising young guard Collin Sexton, their leading scorer who may also be their best player. But the rest of their core was on display, including Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro, top-10 picks from each of the last two drafts. They also have Jarrett Allen, whom they acquired in a trade earlier this season.
Garland was impressive, in particular, with 28 points and nine assists on 9-for-20 shooting. The fourth overall pick in 2019, he's quietly turned into a really solid player who can score both with volume and efficiency. He's 40.8 percent from three on the year and is also dishing out six assists per game.
Allen also played well with 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. That guy is going to get paid nicely in free agency this summer.