WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-91 on Monday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down…
Three losses in a row
Playing without Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma as they hosted the very good Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wizards were overmatched from the very beginning in a game that was never close from start to finish. Cleveland built a 20-point lead in the first half and didn’t slow down after that.
The Wizards lost their third straight game, this one after two straight in which they led by 20-plus points. They didn’t have the firepower for a hot start against the Cavs, who boast the league’s top-ranked defense.
Not having Beal and Kuzma was obviously not ideal, but it was another game in which the Wizards struggled to compensate for injuries to key players. Washington is now 24-29 on the season with just one game left before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Beal, Kuzma out
Kuzma was ruled out the day before, as he missed just his second game of the season. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said he is considered day to day with his left ankle sprain, which would seem to be good news if that remains the case. Beal, meanwhile, was closer to playing as a game-time decision. He ultimately wasn’t able to give it a go.
Beal went through an extensive workout at morning shootaround and looked good running up and down the court during drills to test out his sore left foot. He then did another workout on the court before the game and appeared to be grimacing a bit after jumping off his left foot. The Wizards announced he was out while he was still going through his warmup, which is unusual. That type of news almost always comes out afterward.
The Cavs are tough
While the Wizards were not healthy enough to truly get a read on how they stack up against one of the best teams in the East, they still got a good look at the Cavs. Cleveland’s No. 1 ranked defense and scoring depth was impressive. Considering where they rank in the standings, and how they were fully healthy, it was arguably the most talented team the Wizards have faced in weeks.
Now that the Wizards are starting Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford together, it would be interesting to see these teams play each other at full strength, given the Cavs also have a big lineup with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley Jr. down low. But Porzingis and Gafford couldn’t stop the Cavs from enjoying a 58-to-38 edge in paint points, as there were also Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland causing problems all over the court.
Beal and Kuzma being out created an opening in the rotation that benefitted Will Barton, who got some rare minutes after four consecutive games with zero playing time. He came out and knocked down a few shots to score six points in his first three minutes. Barton ended up with 15 points and got the nod basically instead of Johnny Davis, who was active but remained on the bench in his warmups until the game was well out of hand.
Davis checked in with 6:17 to go and the Wizards down by 25 points. He has spent most of this season in the G-League and hadn’t played in a Wizards game since Dec. 28. The 10th overall pick, Davis had played a total of five minutes since November. The idea of his rookie season turning into a redshirt year has been evident for a while now, but Monday may have been another reminder of that.
Turnovers and threes
The Wizards made matters more difficult for themselves by coming up short in two key areas; turnovers and 3-point shooting. Washington had six of their 14 turnovers in the first quarter, which allowed Cleveland to catch an early rhythm in transition. They scored 15 points off the Wizards’ turnovers for the night.
The Wizards also shot just 6-for-28 (21.4%) from 3-point range. Cleveland was much better, knocking down 12-for-29 (41.4%). The deficit was just too much for the Wizards to overcome. Even if they had made five or six more threes, the game could have been much different.