The Washington Times - April 2, 2009, 06:01PM

At last. Tonight the Washington Wizards will have a starting lineup that very, very closely resembles the group of starters that they envisioned when the season began. Starting tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers are Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood along side Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. The lone replacement starter will be Dominic McGuire at shooting guard instead of DeShawn Stevenson. But like Stevenson, McGuire is a guy who prides himself on doing the dirty work.



The Wizards DO have a new injury tonight, though, however. Javaris Crittenton will miss tonight’s game with back spasms. J-Critt, who on Sunday recorded 19 minutes, four rebounds and three assists and on Wednesday had 13 points, 11 rebounds and two assists (playing 43 minutes in each game), first experienced pain in his back during the flight home last night. Then when he got in his truck his back tightened up on him. “I was just screaming,” Crittenton said. “My cousin thought I was crazy. I went home, took some ibuprofen, came in here four hours early, got some treatment and it’s not any better.”


That will leave Washington with only one point guard — Arenas — since Dixon is still out. Nick Young and Dominic McGuire will share backup point guard duties.


Should be an exciting atmosphere down here at Verizon Center tonight as the rival Cleveland Cavaliers lay their 13 game winning streak on the line. And for the Wizards, who own the second-worst record in the league, this is the closest they’ll get to a playoff atmosphere.


“Maybe what we’ll do is accelerate the playoffs a little bit and treat tonight’s game like a playoff game,” Ed Tapscott said. “Any time you’re playing the best team in the league, which Cleveland certainly is by having the best record, you raise your game and I think you raise your game any time you go up against the best guys. I think our guys are excited for the challenge that’s ahead of us tonight.”


The Cavaliers are expected to start Lebron James, Anderson Varejao, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Delonte West and Mo Williams.


The Wizards and Cavaliers split in their first two meetings, falling 93-89 on Christmas Day, and then winning 80-77 on Jan. 4.