Cavs couldn't sustain energy after a great first quarter
The Washington Wizards are now down only by half a game for the third spot in the Eastern Conference as they won their third straight game and the first win after the All-Star break. And folks, they won despite missing John Wall.
Who did they beat this time around?
It's the defending Eastern Conference champions, Cleveland Cavaliers who traded almost half of their roster just hours before the trade deadline. And the Cavs have already beaten the Wizards twice this season by an average of 7.5 points. And it appeared that Washington had finally figured it out how to win against LeBron James and the rest of the Cavs.
To give credit to the Cavs, they actually had a great start against the Wizards as LeBron James was unstoppable in the first few minutes of the opening quarter when the Cavs exploded for 31 points. So why did the game ended with the Wizards claiming their first victory over Cleveland this season, 110-103?
22% Shooting from the 3-Point Line
Over the course of the regular season, whenever the Cavs, despite the fact they are loaded with shooters and slashers, are struggling hit their mark from downtown, they have either lost the game or they needed LeBron James to bail them out of embarrassment on a buzzer-beating shot. In this case, one of the primary reasons why the Cavs lost to the Wizards after winning every game since they made the trade was their horrible shooting from beyond the arc.
As a team, Cleveland only made 8 out of their 35 ATTEMPTS from the three-point line. That's 35 attempts, folks. Did the Cavs suddenly feel that they are the Golden State Warriors who live and die by the three-point line? That was apparently the case as nobody was shooting well from deep. LeBron James went 1 for 4 from long distance while JR Smith went 3 for 8 from that area. George Hill, one of the 4 newcomers, missed all of his 4 attempts while Kyle Korver and Rodney Hood combined for 4 for 11 3-point shooting.
Balance and Efficiency
One of the many reasons why Scott Brook's boys have been winning this season is their ability to have a balanced attack without shooting too much. Against a highly-talented Cleveland squad, Washington was able to get 5 players scoring in double figures as compared to the three players of Cleveland led by LeBron James' 32 points.
Bradley Beal led the way with 18 points for the Wizards, going 8 for 19 from the field and also had 9 assists. Tomas Satoransky had 17 points on 6 for 7 shooting plus 8 assists while Otto Porter J. scored 15 points. Kelly Oubre Jr scored 17 points while coming off the bench while longtime veteran, Jodie Meeks added 10 points.
This is the first time that the Cavs lost since they pulled the trigger on that mind-bugging trade. While Cavs fans will say that we should calm down and it's just one game. One game lost and your team is now only half a game ahead of the Wizards for the third spot. If the Cavs have any intention at all to catch up with the conference leaders and hopefully, have a higher chance of keeping LeBron James after this season, they shouldn't be losing against a team who is missing their All-Star point guard.
But then, it's only one game after all. Expect the Cavs to bounce back even stronger and when they do, they will be unstoppable. It's only a matter of figuring things out again.