Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards Pick & Prediction JANUARY 5th 2024

The Washington Wizards have an immediate opportunity to exact a measure of revenge from a humiliating defeat when they get a rematch Friday with the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers got scoring and rebounding from all 11 players who saw action when they thumped the visiting Wizards 140-101 in the opener of the same-site, two-game sequence on Wednesday.

While equaling their largest margin of victory over the Wizards, the Cavaliers recorded season-bests in several categories, including points, 3-point percentage (47.6) and rebounds (62).

Cleveland matched its season-best in offensive rebounds with 18, turning them into 35 points, an area Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. pinpointed as something that must be improved if his club wants to be more competitive in the rematch.

“Cleaning up the defensive glass is a priority,” he noted. “Eighteen (offensive rebounds) for 35 (points) … you leave yourself little room to recover.”

No doubt, the visitors saw not only the Cleveland home crowd thoroughly enjoy the blowout, but also the Cavaliers bench.

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff offered no apologies for the sideline celebrations — often among his starters rooting up their backups — late in a game that was approaching a 40-point margin.

“The guys enjoyed themselves because everybody got an opportunity to contribute,” he said. “They were supporting each other, rooting for one another.”

If there was a cautionary note for the Cavaliers, it was that they’ve already followed up double-digit wins with losses three times this season. That included a 103-95 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers two days after their previously most lopsided victory of the season, 128-105 over the Atlanta Hawks.

Similarly, the Wizards are no strangers to bouncing back from blowout losses. In fact, their most recent win — 110-104 over the Brooklyn Nets — came two days after a 30-point embarrassment dealt them by the Toronto Raptors.

All six Washington wins this season have followed a double-digit loss, with those defeats averaging more than points.

The night wasn’t a total disaster for the Wizards, who flew into Cleveland for two matchups sandwiching a four-game homestand and two more home outings Saturday and Monday.

Jordan Poole hit three of his first four shots Wednesday, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the visitors held the upper hand for most of the first five minutes.

But Poole never scored again, missing his last seven shots, including both his 3-point attempts.

The Wizards shot a respectable 12 for 35 (34.3 percent) on 3s, but that was nothing compared to the Cavaliers’ 20 for 42 (47.6 percent). Five Cavaliers combined for 19 of the successes, with Max Strus making six, Donovan Mitchell four, and Sam Merrill, Georges Niang and Caris LeVert three each.

Strus, who took just 13 shots, was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points, 18 of them coming on 6-for-8 accuracy from beyond the arc in the opener of a six-game homestand.

Kyle Kuzma, who shot 7 for 12, paced the Wizards with 16 points.

The clubs will also duel two times at Washington next month, with those games separated by 18 days.

–Field Level Media

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