The Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards have gone in opposite directions this month. Each will be after trying to finish off 2021 in a positive way this evening.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards
Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Capital One Arena
Suffice to say the number of people that had Cleveland at No. 5 in the Eastern Conference on the advent of 2022 was maybe a few in the Cavaliers organization to start the season. And even that is unlikely. When guard Collin Sexton was lost for the season, whatever playoff chances the Cavs had were believed to have gone with him.
Washington had higher hopes after last season even with the departure of Russell Westbrook. With the Eastern Conference rather pedestrian beyond three or four teams, the Wizards front office and players believe they can make a run once they get a couple of players back and the virus presumably calms down, and they do have more than enough to make a run.
Cavaliers Playing Well but Will Have to Navigate Another Obstacle
Since their five-game losing streak last month, Cleveland (20-14, 24-8-2 ATS) is 11-4 (12-3 ATS). There’s not been anything fluky about those victories either, winning by an average of 22.3 points a contest. That has been total dominance.
The emergence of point guard Darius Garland as Cleveland’s leading scorer has brought comfort to the organization and proven they made the right move on taking him at No. 5 in the 2019 draft.
In last year’s draft, Evan Mobley was chosen in the third spot and though highly drafted, almost everyone assumed it would take him a few years to develop. Instead, Mobley has shown an exceptional all-around game on both ends of the which has allowed the Cavs to take such a giant step forward.
The loss of Sexton was overcome, but losing another guard like Ricky Rubio won’t be as easy. Rubio fell in a non-contact injury Tuesday in what turned out to be a torn MCL and he'll miss the rest of the season. Replacing his 28 minutes per game and 6.6 assists doesn't look good for the Cavs.
Washington Biding Time for Virus and to Improve Frontcourt
The Wizards (17-17, 15-17-2 ATS) made several off-season moves to improve their overall roster, with the likes of Montrezl Harrell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. As it turns out, those moves might save Washington’s season once forward Rui Hachimura and center Thomas Bryant can work their way back into the rotation.
With the virus outbreak, a below-average defensive team like Washington was further exposed digging deeper down the bench which explains their 4-9 record in the month of December (4-8-1 ATS).
Hachimura and Bryant are expected to take the court sometime in January unless setbacks pop up and that will make the Wizards a vastly different team, with a far greater ability to score closer to the basket.
For now, Bradley Beal is the focus of Washington’s offense, yet, when he’s been in the protocol, Dinwiddie in particular has shined in the spotlight and rookie Corey Kispert has come through with outstanding performances.
Cavaliers vs. Wizards Free Pick Prediction
Both teams are ravaged by Covid cases and Cleveland is now without Rubio. The top sportsbooks have tried to determine, based on the rosters, which team has who left and is giving Washington three points for being the home team.
For the NBA picks, the oddsmakers' line seems to include the possibility that Beal and Caldwell-Pope could play, with both being listed ‘questionable’ as this article was posted and they could make adjustments should that not be the case.
We’ll trust what the sportsbook seems to appear to know and back the Wizards because they will have more playmakers.
NBA Pick: Wizards -3.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.