These two teams are deep and they know each other well after meeting two years in a row in the playoffs. Here is a breakdown of this series:
POINT GUARD: Gilbert Arenas came back late in the season and he usually raises his level of play come playoff time. He is not a pure point guard as he would rather shoot than pass. Arenas has more range as a shooter than almost anyone in the NBA, so if the Cavaliers leave him open to double team other Wizards “Agent Zero” will make them pay. Arenas played in 13 games (8 starts) this season for the Wizards and he has averaged 19.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Look for him to have better numbers than he did in the regular season against the Cavs.
Delonte West was added during the season in a trade with the Supersonics. Much like Arenas, West is not a pure point guard. He played in 26 games (all starts) for the Cavaliers this season and he averaged 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
EDGE: HUGE FOR WIZARDS
SHOOTING GUARD: DeShawn Stevenson is a decent player but he’s not someone you can depend on and he proved that last season against the Cavs in the playoffs. They needed him to step up with Arenas and Butler hurting and he didn’t. Stevenson played in 82 games (all starts) for the Wizards last season and he averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
The Cavaliers will probably be starting Devin Brown as Sasha Pavlovic is hurting right now. Brown is a decent player, but like Stevenson, he usually doesn’t raise his game when the team needs him to. Brown played in 78 games (20 starts) for the Cavs last season and he averaged 7.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
SMALL FORWARD: This is a matchup of two outstanding players. Butler has blossomed into a very good player at both ends of the court and he will make LeBron James work for every point he gets in this series. Butler played in 58 games (all starts) for the Wizards this season and he averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Butler will also make LeBron James work on defense.
LeBron James is quite simply, the best player on the planet Earth. James played in 75 games (74 starts) for the Cavaliers this season and he averaged 30.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. James always plays well against the Wizards and he will be focused because of Gilbert Arenas running his mouth in the press.
POWER FORWARD: Antwan Jamison is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He played in 79 games (all starts) for the Wizards this season and he averaged 21.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Jamison will have his work cut out for him as Ben Wallace usually takes his game up a level in the post season.
The Cavaliers brought Ben Wallace in specifically for the playoffs. Coach Mike Brown values defense and hustle and those are two qualities that Wallace brings to the court every night. Just don’t expect him to score a lot. Wallace played in 22 games (all starts) for the Cavs last season and he averaged 4.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.
CENTER: Brendan Haywood had his best season of his NBA career in 2007-08 so it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up in the playoffs. Haywood played in 80 games (all starts) for the Wizards this season and he averaged 10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.7 blocked shots per game.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the Cavs second option on offense. He played in 73 games (all starts) for the Cavaliers and he averaged 14.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.6 blocked shots per game. Ilgauskas does need to start dunking the ball instead of tipping it in, but that’s nitpicking as he is a really good basketball player.
BENCH: Both of these teams have good benches. Point guard Antonio Daniels had to start most of the season for the Wizards and he is a good player. He played in 71 games (63 starts) for the Wizards this season and he averaged 8.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Roger Mason played in 80 games (9 starts) for the Wizards this season and he averaged 9.1 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He can swing between small forward and shooting guard. Andray Blatche is the backup center for the Wizards and he really blossomed this season. He played in 82 games (15 starts) for the Wizards this season and he averaged 7.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.4 blocked shots per game. F/G Nick Young had a impressive rookie season for the Wizards and he will be a starter down the road. Young has played in 75 games (2 starts) for the Wizards and he averaged 7.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. Power forward Darius Songaila also gave a good showing this season for the Wizards. He played in 80 games (13 starts) for the Wizards this year and he averaged 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
The Cavaliers have a very deep and talented bench. C/F Anderson Varejao is Mr. Energy off the bench for the Cavs. He played in 48 games (13 starts) for the Cavs this season and he averaged 6.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Backup point guard Daniel Gibson really stepped up in the playoffs last season. Gibson played in 58 games (26 starts) for the Cavs this year and he averaged 10.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Gibson is one of the best outside shooters in the game as well as Wally Szczerbiak and Damon Jones. Wally Szczerbiak had a rough time in Cleveland after they acquired him from the Sonics. He played in 25 games (1 start) for the Cavs and he averaged 8.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Joe Smith provides some muscle off the bench for the Cavs as the backup power forward. Smith played in 27 games (1 start) for the Cavaliers this season and he averaged 8.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. Sasha Pavlovic is injured right now but he will be back before this series is over. Pavlovic played in 51 games (45 starts) for the Cavs this season and he averaged 7.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Damon Jones is a shoot first point guard and his shooting is his only above average tool in basketball. He played in 67 games (3 starts) for the Cavs this season and he averaged 6.5 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. F/C Dwayne Jones will be sitting at the end of the bench for the Cavs. He played in 56 games (0 starts) for the Cavs this season and he averaged 1.4 points, 2.5 rebounds an 0.2 assists per game.
PREDICTION: The Cavaliers will win a tough battle with the Wizards in 7 games.