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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/11/2011

Wizards risk looking ahead to Cavaliers game

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

The Wizards are in an unusual position of trying to avoid focusing on the worst team in the NBA by overlooking the best team in the league. They have one of the more unique back-to-back sets as they host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, then travel to Cleveland the next day.

But with the Cavaliers on an NBA-record 26-games losing streak and the Wizards winless in 25 road games, the anticipation of Sunday's contest -- at least from a national perspective -- far exceeds the game against San Antonio. Wizards players have been joking about it for days, realizing the importance of beating the struggling Cavaliers.

"It's almost like it's a must-win. We need to win it," Rashard Lewis said. "Most definitely, we need to win a game on the road."

The Wizards-Cavaliers game has attracted the most attention because of the futility of both teams, but Coach Flip Saunders said both games are important to his team. "We'd like to get another signature win against the best team in the league. That would be good to reinforce some of the things that we've done. It would be good to maybe give us a little bit of traction going into the Cleveland game," Saunders said.

The Cavaliers will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, which could knock down some of the hype surrounding the game against Washington should they win. Lewis is actually rooting for that outcome.

"Hopefully they can win before we get there on Sunday because I'm sure that will be the talk of the town, not of the town, the country," Lewis said. "If they don't, they're going to be saying that we can't lose to this team at home, we can't give them their first win on our home court. And we're looking them the same way, there's no way we can lose to this team even though we're going into their building and it's a back to back. Something's got to give."

Cartier Martin was asked if he had his preference, would he rather beat San Antonio and lose to Cleveland or beat Cleveland and lose to San Antonio? "I'm not going to even answer that," Martin said, chuckling. "I'd rather win both games. I want to win both games. Here at home, against the Spurs, against the top team, then going into Cleveland to get our first win."

If the Wizards were able to upset the Spurs, Saunders said the win would be diminished with a loss to the Cleveland to the next day. "I think that you're as good as your last game. If we win against San Antonio, we'd be good on Sunday. If we lose to Cleveland, we'd be bad on Monday. You're as good as how you play your last game, but I think other things you can't worry about it."

Saunders added that Sunday's game is important. "No matter who our next road game was going to be, it was going to be a big game for us, just to get a road win and from Cleveland's standpoint, if they don't beat the Clippers, just to get a win." Saunders said.

"The one thing about Sunday, Sunday's game is going to be a pressurized game. It's not just going to be a regular road game," he said. "It's going to be pressure and so, a lot of our players haven't been in situations where they've been in pressure games. Almost like a playoff situation in the regular season. You're going to see how players are going to react in a pressure situation. So you're going to see from a coaching standpoint and management, it's going to see how our players will react in that kind of environment, too. Our guys hear the stuff that's being said, them waiting for us to come on Sunday and that, so you have to have an edge going in."

By Michael Lee  | February 11, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
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Next: Jump ball: Who wins -- Wizards or Cavs?

Comments

They say San Antonio always gets better during the rodeo trip because of the bonding. If they get any better than they are now thats a 70 win season. I don't think wizards can win this one but hopefully we don't get embarrassed by cleveland.

Posted by: jefferu | February 11, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I think it would be great for the Wizards if this was a nationally televised game with some good measure of negative hype surrounding them. Max amount of pressure possible for this season, would like to see how they respond. Or who responds and who doesnt. Perfect its against the Cavs whose fans love to jeer us already, building will be packed and raucous. This could be like a getting a playoff game experience without making the postseason

Posted by: divi3 | February 10, 2011 3:06PM

"The one thing about Sunday, Sunday's game is going to be a pressurized game. It's not just going to be a regular road game," he said. "It's going to be pressure and so, a lot of our players haven't been in situations where they've been in pressure games. Almost like a playoff situation in the regular season. You're going to see how players are going to react in a pressure situation. So you're going to see from a coaching standpoint and management, it's going to see how our players will react in that kind of environment, too."

Nice to see Flip reads WI

Posted by: divi3 | February 11, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

but seriously

So you're going to see from a coaching standpoint and management, it's going to see how our players will react in that kind of environment, too

Make no mistake Flip, Ted will be grading you as well.

Posted by: divi3 | February 11, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"Make no mistake Flip, Ted will be grading you as well.Posted by: divi3"

LOL speaking of grades, here are divi's season-to-date:

Loyalty to Nick and Javale: A++
Consistent message: A+
Logic: D-
Sense of Humor: F

Posted by: Samson151 | February 11, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Toronto had a good effort against the Spurs based on forcing them to run more than San Antonio likes. They gave up a ton of rebounds to Blair but basically held the edge through 3 quarters. San Antonio prevailed in the fourth, however. Wouldn't be surprised to see Philly try the same thing -- they're a better running team than Toronto and Elton Brand a better matchup for Blair.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 11, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

LOL speaking of grades, here are divi's season-to-date:

Loyalty to Nick and Javale: A++
Consistent message: A+
Logic: D-
Sense of Humor: F

Posted by: Samson151 | February 11, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Honestly...that made me laugh a little bit...

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 11, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

You're an easy grader, Samson. I wish I'd had you as my H.S. chem teacher.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 11, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

i do smile when i think of a grown ass man typing "LOL" 100x a day...does that count as humor?

Posted by: divi3 | February 11, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

although technically i'm laughing at you so maybe my humor grade should remain an F

Posted by: divi3 | February 11, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"i do smile when i think of a grown ass man typing "LOL" 100x a day...does that count as humor?Posted by: divi3"

Only if you haven't figured out it's done entirely to annoy you.

Slow on the uptake: A++

Posted by: Samson151 | February 11, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Only if you haven't figured out it's done entirely to annoy you.

That's probably why you've been doing for a year before I ever mentioned it? I'm afraid you no longer have credentials to grade logic.

Posted by: divi3 | February 11, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I think I'm pretty balanced. I hate you all the same.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | February 11, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"...probably why you've been doing for a year before I ever mentioned it?"Posted by: divi3

But the LOL's... you don't mean... you were serious all that time?

All that stuff about Nick being MVP and Javale a future superstar -- you weren't joking?

OMG...

Posted by: Samson151 | February 11, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"I think I'm pretty balanced. I hate you all the same.Posted by: SDMDTSU"

That's what we need in this world: more fairness.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 11, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

OK, to keep things fair and balanced, here are LarryInClintonMD's grades:

Length: A++
Rhetorical flourishes: A+
Logic: n/a

Posted by: Samson151 | February 11, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I never from the time LeShaftintheback Took His Talents To Lake Erie that I would ever, ever...EVER feel sorry for the Cleveland Cavaliers' fans.

I do now. BUT NOT FOR THIS GAME.

Typical San Antonio under-the-radar job. I'd like to see them win it all, becuase of the way all the Kobe/LeShaftintheback/Shaq/LALALALA/Boston/HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT freaks react each time they do.

Posted by: poorskins | February 11, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Look the Wizards don't have a chance of winning against the Spurs. Oh, they can make it close...make it competitive but when push comes to shove (in the 4th quarter) the Spurs will win it.

And then it's on to the Toilet Bowl.

Posted by: tundey | February 11, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I used to know a girl in 9th grade who gave all the guys "grades" for things like grooming, sense of humor, sexiness, etc.

Samson's a real little queen bee.

Posted by: KTV1 | February 11, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Ha! It will be an interesting game. I don't think it's some sort of evaluation game for Flip Saunders however. He's a proven commodity coaching a young bad team. Pretty simple.

The contradictions in here are hysterical at times.

NY is playing great ball, he's playing defense now, his shot selection has improved. But, FS can't coach, teach, manage a game, and is overly critical of his players. JM is showing signs that he can be a player in the NBA. But, FS can't coach, teach, manage a game, and is overly critical of his players. KH, a veteran leader with a career resume better than, perhaps, anyone currently on the roster besides RL, gets a lot of playing time. The horrors! FS can't coach, teach, manage a game, and is overly critical of his players. Yada, yada, yada.

The creme de la creme is the notion that Jerry Sloan would be a good coach to get. Yet, he terrorizes his players in practice and destroys them in the media on occasion. Why? Bc he is trying to make them better players and people. Jerry Sloan would have NY, AB, and JM in tears. Hey, maybe he is what we need, if only, there was a chance in hell he would coach here if he ever does again.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 11, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Ha! It will be an interesting game. I don't think it's some sort of evaluation game for Flip Saunders however. He's a proven commodity coaching a young bad team. Pretty simple.

The contradictions in here are hysterical at times.

NY is playing great ball, he's playing defense now, his shot selection has improved. But, FS can't coach, teach, manage a game, and is overly critical of his players. JM is showing signs that he can be a player in the NBA. But, FS can't coach, teach, manage a game, and is overly critical of his players. KH, a veteran leader with a career resume better than, perhaps, anyone currently on the roster besides RL, gets a lot of playing time. The horrors! FS can't coach, teach, manage a game, and is overly critical of his players. Yada, yada, yada.

The creme de la creme is the notion that Jerry Sloan would be a good coach to get. Yet, he terrorizes his players in practice and destroys them in the media on occasion. Why? Bc he is trying to make them better players and people. Jerry Sloan would have NY, AB, and JM in tears. Hey, maybe he is what we need, if only, there was a chance in hell he would coach here if he ever does again.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 11, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't see Sloan coaching again. The things that made him so fed up as to walk away from the Jazz are just as present among the rest of the teams in the NBA.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 11, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Sloan is ever going to coach again either.

It might be interesting to see how he would do as a broadcaster/analyst. Could he be another Hubie Brown? I love Hubie's analysis and they are from the same "old school".

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 11, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't see Sloan going into the booth. Everything I've ever read about him suggests he's an introvert who shuns the spotlight, so TV work would be an out of character move.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 11, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Could be "out of character", but he might get the itch to be around the game in some capacity. Perhaps he just goes away and enjoys the sunset.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 11, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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