The Washington Wizards now believe they are contenders in the Eastern Conference and will get a chance to prove it when they put their home winning streak on the line by hosting the defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. The Wizards won their 17th consecutive home game and seventh overall with a dominant fourth quarter in a 105-91 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Washington outscored the Pelicans 25-8 in the fourth quarter and held them scoreless over the final 5:51 to extend the second-longest home winning streak in franchise history – behind a 22-game streak by the 1974-75 Bullets. “We’re locked in, playing better defense as a team,” Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall told reporters. “Just our offense – it’s just free flowing, everybody’s getting touches. All five (starters) in double figures, and our bench is playing great.” The Cavaliers look strong of late as well and improved to 2-0 in February after a sub-.500 January with Saturday’s 111-104 triumph at the New York Knicks. Cleveland star forward Kevin Love, who has been enduring trade rumors of late, returned from a one-game absence due to a back injury and delivered 23 points and 16 rebounds in the win.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Ohio (Cleveland), CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington)
LINE HISTORY: The Wizards opened as 1-point favorites at most books Sunday evening and on Monday that line was pushed to -1.5. The total hit the board at 220 and dropped to 218.5 on Monday afternoon. Check out the complete line history here.
Cavaliers – PG K. Irving (Probable, quadricep), SG J. Smith (Late March, thumb), PF C. Anderson (Out For Season, knee).
Wizards – C I. Mahinmi (Mid Feb, knee), PF D. House (Mid Feb, wrist).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Cavaliers (-6.5) – Wizards (-5.2) + home court (-3) = Wizards -4.3
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (34-15 SU, 21-26-2 ATS, 27-22 O/U): Love is ignoring the trade rumors and trying to focus on staying healthy and helping Cleveland to a second straight NBA championship. The 28-year-old recorded a double-double in each of his last six full games and went 4-of-7 from 3-point range on Saturday. “Maybe the silver lining was getting through the back injury and just going out there and playing,” Love told reporters after Saturday’s win. “Had I not done that, I don’t know if it would have been different or not. It is the first game of a four-game road trip and get out there after missing a couple of games and just wanted to feel good.”
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (30-20 SU, 30-20 ATS, 30-20 O/U): Wall contributed six points, three assists and two steals to the game-ending 15-0 run on Saturday and finished with 24 points and 13 assists in his fourth straight double-double. “We want to play solid throughout the game, and in the fourth quarter it’s always been about picking up the intensity,” Washington coach Scott Brooks told reporters. “You have a choice to do that in the fourth quarter.” Two of Wall’s assists in the decisive run went to power forward Markieff Morris, who is averaging 18.9 points during the seven-game winning streak.
* Cavaliers are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Wizards are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 5-1 in Cavaliers last 6 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Over is 4-1 in Wizards last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Cavaliers are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Washington.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 59 percent of Covers users are siding with the road underdog Cavaliers and Under is picking up 54 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.