Before I get into why the Wizards will present such an issue for the Cavaliers moving forward, let’s briefly discuss the other two “challengers” to the Cavaliers – the Celtics and the Raptors. The Celtics have shown us once again that it’s really hard to compete in the playoffs when you don’t have a complementary scorer, someone who can take over a game when your opponent shuts down your best player. With the suddenly good Bulls keying in on Isaiah Thomas and playing their best basketball of the season, the Celtics have sheepishly looked around for someone else to take over.
Marcus Smart wants to be that guy, but he is decidedly not that guy. Though he’s an excellent defender and an underrated scorer, Avery Bradley isn’t that guy, either. Al Horford is a pass-first guy who wants to make his teammates better, but can’t take over a game with his scoring. Neither can Jae Crowder. The Celtics just don’t have that person, and it’ll be what dooms them. I’m not sure they could have had either Paul George or Jimmy Butler at the deadline (the more I read, the more I think neither the Pacers nor the Bulls ever actually considered trading them), but man, they could use someone like that right now.