Wizards set to open season in Cleveland

Wizards set to open season in Cleveland
October 30, 2012, 12:15 pm
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1) Carryover: Sure, the Wizards are entering a new campaign with several players set to make their Washington debut. There is a certain injured threesome (John Wall, Nene, Kevin Seraphin) who will watch Tuesday's season opener from the sideline (Since I'm a company man, this where I remind that you can watch the game on Comcast SportsNet at 7:00 p.m). Of course there is no direct connection between last season's strong close and facing the Cavs on Halloween Eve, and yet...What's been noticeable during Washington's month-long training camp and preseason has been the team's competitive spirit which is indeed a carry over from the season-ending six-game winning streak posted in April. That might not be enough to avoid a losing record over the opening 10 games without Wall, especially if Nene sits out that entire stretch as well, but it's certainly a positive development - and one that a road victory over another lottery team seeking a standings rise would fortify.

2) Head-to-Head: Last season the Wizards won only 20 games. Two came against the Cavaliers (21-45 record last season), including a 96-85 road win in the Wizards penultimate game which at the time was Washington's fifth straight triumph. Interesting that the last team to defeat the locals, also Cleveland, 98-89 on April 14 at the Verizon Center. Wall averaged 20 points in those two games while Cavs star point guard played only 10 minutes combined. Only one of the two will be on the court Tuesday. Actually, not a single player in Washington's announced starting lineup also started in the late season win over Cleveland while Wall and Chris Singleton were the only players to participate in all three games against the Cavs. Jordan Crawford missed that contest with a sprained ankle, but averaged a team-high 24.5 points in the other two games. The Wizards will need his scoring off the bench, something the reserves have provided throughout the preseason, including Crawford tallying 14 in the 99-95 win earlier this month.

3) Rookie showdown: This matchup, one the NBA prominently displayed on the schedule, was to be headlined as the battle of the rising point guards: John Wall vs Kyrie Irving. The main spotlight remains on Irving, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year, but without Wall the intriguing head-to-head battle centers on dueling first-year wing guards Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters, the Syracuse product selected one spot later. Beal, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, remained poised yet aggressive throughout the preseason, though opposing defenses tightened up on the 6-foot-4 guard. Drafted one spot after Beal, Waiters left college with a strong reputation as a defender which makes the first regular season meeting against the offensively potent Beal one to watch indeed. Beal knocked down 4 of 8 shots and scored 14 points in the preseason meeting while Waiters missed seven of nine attempts and finished with four points. Cleveland also drafted former North Carolina center Tyler Zeller in the first round.

Projected starting lineups: Wizards - A.J. Price, Bradley Beal (guards); Trevor Booker, Trevor Ariza (forward); Emeka Okafor (center)...Cavaliers - Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters (guards); Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson (forwards); Anderson Varejao (center)

Injuries: Wizards - Wall (knee, out); Nene (foot, out), Kevin Seraphin (calf, out); Cavaliers - Luke Harangody (right knee sprain)