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Eastern Conference Preview, Part 1
by Matt Fargo - 04/17/2008
Eastern Conference Preview â€“ Part 1
Washington Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
This is the third straight season that these two teams have met in the first round of the playoffs. Cleveland won both of the previous seriesâ€™, first in six games in 2006 and then a sweep last season against an injury-riddled Washington team. The Wizards have added bulletin board material to this series starting with DeShawn Stevenson who flapped that LeBron James was overrated and then Gilbert Arenas saying that he is glad they got the Cavaliers as they are beatable and canâ€™t win three straight seriesâ€™ against Washington.
The teams split the season series 2-2 but this is the one playoff series that the past results mean little. Each game saw each team put a different lineup on the floor and this will be the first meeting that both teams are at least close to full strength. For Washington, Arenas did not play in any of the meetings while Caron Butler missed the third game. James was absent from the first meeting and the Cavaliers had just eight players dressed in that third game due to their huge mid-season trade. Basically, we start from scratch.
Cleveland gets the home court advantage and that could likely be the difference once again for the Cavaliers. Cleveland went 4-1 at home while the Wizards went just 1-4 on their home floor during the prior two playoff runs. This season, the Cavaliers went 27-14 at home while Washington went 25-16 so whichever team can break through on their opponents home floor will have a big edge in taking control of this series. If neither can, the Cavaliers have that edge.
From a betting standpoint, the Cavaliers may not be a great take on their home floor as they went just 15-26 against the number. Washington meanwhile went 24-17 ATS on the road but that seven-game margin was due to a 12-5 ATS mark against teams with a losing record. The Wizards are 12-3 ATS on the season as a road underdog of fewer than six points and 21-10 ATS as a road underdog overall. Add to that, the road team has covered five of the last seven meetings and it is possible the road team may be worth long looks.