The Other Side: Cleveland Cavaliers
Following a 109-101 victory last week at Verizon Center, the No. 15 seed Washington Wizards carry a 2-1 lead into Cleveland for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference regular season series. The series has had several highlights to this point. Before Game 1, LeBron James' desire to wear navy blue uniforms that matched his Nike "chalk" shoes forced a staffer to go back to Washington and collect the Wizards' home white jerseys. Then, a series of bad Wizards offensive possessions and some questionable calls in the final 1 minute, 40 seconds allowed the Cavaliers to score the final 11 points and eek out a 93-89 win.
In Game 2, the Wizards won 80-77 as James' "crab dribbled" into a travel in the final seconds. And finally, in Game 3, Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood returned to the starting lineup for the only time this season and Washington defeated the top-seeded Cavaliers 109-101. Now, the Cavaliers will attempt to improve to 38-1 at Quicken Loans Arena and move another step closer to matching the 1985-86 Boston Celtics for best single-season home record. Funk legend Bootsy Collins already has their back.
Here's what you need to know about the Cavaliers as they prepare to host the Wizards for the final time this season:
1. The Cavaliers Have Topped the 1995-96 Bulls
Not really. But after the Cavaliers' victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, they finished the season 26-4 against the Western Conference. According to Elias, no team from the East has won that many games against the West since the 1977-78 Philadelphia 76ers. The 72-win Bulls went 25-5 against the West. The 101-81 win over San Antonio, which came after back-to-back losses to Washington and Orlando, revealed that they are still a championship-caliber team. It might help that LeBron James gets all the calls.
2. Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao Might Come Back
The Wizards got an emotional lift with the returns of Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood last Thursday. The Cavaliers might strike back tonight with the big man combo of Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao. Wallace hasn't played since breaking his right fibula Feb. 26 against Houston. Varejao missed Sunday's game against San Antonio with a wrist injury.
3. The Cavaliers Won't Kill Themselves to Get Home Court
The loss to Washington left the Cavaliers in a funk that carried over to the next night in Orlando, where the Magic thumped them by 29 points. The two losses allowed the Lakers to move within a half-game of catching Cleveland for home court advantage throughout the playoffs (the Lakers own the tiebreaker). The Cavaliers control their own playoff destiny, but Coach Mike Brown is more concerned about making sure his players are rested than securing the top spot.
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