Saturday April 22, 2006 3:20 am
2005-2006 NBA Playoffs – Washington Wizards (42-40) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32), Game One
What the Wizards Need to Do to Win: They’re going to have to be doing a lot of praying that LeBron James decides not to play. But, considering this is James’ first NBA playoffs, I doubt that will happen. The Wizards need to take the ball out of James’ hands as he is an incredible creator for either himself or his teammates to score. Caron Butler would be the most capable player in trying to do this for the Wizards, but it won’t matter much as I expect this to be a high scoring affair. The trio of Butler, Gilbert Arenas, and Antawn Jamison should get their points in, but it won’t be enough to simply outgun and outscore the Cavs as they have some offensive weapons not named James as well. The Wizards cannot forget about the role players on the Cavs.
What the Cavaliers Need to Do to Win: James will need to lead his team as he has all season and try not to succumb to the pressure of having to put forth a great game because of being the Chosen One. It’ll be a tough thing to do all things considered – James is from Cleveland, the game is being played in Cleveland, this is the first time the Cavs have made the playoffs in a long time, and the NBA offices really want James to succeed and take over that mantle Jordan left behind. In any case, Zyrunas Ilgauskus will need to establish an offensive presence down in the box and help execute the half-court offense, as well as rebound and block shots. Larry Hughes will need to play like he didn’t miss a significant amount of time during the regular season and defensively help lock down Arenas, which will be hard to do, but worth the effort to try. Flip Murray needs to make us continue to say, “How did he get 14 points?” at the end of the game and Eric Snow should be a calming force and help the inexperienced Cavs when things don’t go their way during the game.
My Prediction: Cavaliers 111, Wizards 106; Both Arenas and James score close to 40 points each, but it will be the play of Hughes against his former team that will be the difference.
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