Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (31) dribbles the ball against Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
By Wole Akinso (@Wole_USS)
Washington, DC— Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was working out; shooting jumpers and free throws prior to the Wizards’ game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, the Wizards star missed his second straight game due to a foot injury. The Cavaliers took no mercy on the Beal-less Wizards, thrashing them, 114-91.
Without Beal and injured forward Kyle Kuzma, the Wizards did not have the fire power to compete with the Cavaliers. It was their third straight loss, and the team couldn’t buy a bucket, especially in the first the half. The Wizards were 1 for 14 from the three-point line, finishing the game going 6 for 28. Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. felt that the Wizards generated good shots, yet the basketball gods weren’t on their side.
“I thought in the first half, we generated some good ones. You know 1 for 14 is tough but you got to stay with it. You’re not always going to make the open looks. You can’t get discourage when you’re playing good offense against a really tough defensive team. You don’t get the pay off. We got to anchor ourselves on the defensive side and lean in even more in those moments where we’re not getting a rhythm on offense.”
Unlike the Wizards’ last two games, the Cavs held onto their big first half lead (66-46). Cavs All-Star Donovan Mitchell set the tone in the first quarter putting on an offensive onslaught on Wizards forward Deni Avdija, who had the first quarter defensive assignment on the all-star. Mitchell was getting to the basket at will and Avdija couldn’t stay in front of him.
Mitchell had nine points in the quarter and finishing the game with 21 points in only 28 minutes. His backcourt mate Darius Garland dropped 23 points and went 5 for 9 from the three-point line. Mitchell and Garland’s play opened up everything for the Cavs offense.
The Cavs spacing and rolling bigs added to the demise of the Wizards’ defense as well. Cavs power forward Evan Mobley and center Jarrett Allen combined for 39 points. Coach Unseld was in a pick your poison situation with the Cavs offense.
“They put a lot of pressure on you. When you’re trying to get the ball out of Mitchell’s hands out of Garland’s hands, you know that roller, you got to account for that. And they got two guys that can do it. So it puts a lot of pressure on your low man who’s often times a small with both bigs on the floor. One big up and one big involved in the pick and rolls quite often. You’re there, you’re just not because of their size and they just finish through and over you.”
The Wizards have a 15-40 Charlotte Hornets team coming to Capital One Arena Wednesday night. They need that game to end the losing streak and change morale.