- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

Win and wait.

That is the plan for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are looking to complete a four-game sweep of the Washington Wizards tonight in their first-round playoff series. The Cavaliers hope to jump on the Wizards early and — this time — not let up.

“We smell blood, so we just want to attack,” Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden said before practice yesterday at Verizon Center. “When you look at the big picture, you want to close this series out, you want to get the rest and just watch Toronto and New Jersey beat up on each other.”

If Cleveland wins this series — no team in NBA history has lost a series after leading 3-0 — it will meet either the Nets or Raptors. New Jersey held a 2-1 advantage entering last night’s game.

“The sooner you win four games, the more rest you get, the more you can prepare,” Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes said. “You don’t catch yourself jumping from one series to the next with different styles. You could run into a running team or a halfcourt team. We want to close out so we can get prepared.”

Hughes — who is averaging 19.0 points a game this series — is one of four Cavaliers averaging double figures in the playoffs. LeBron James leads the way at 26.7 points along with 7.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists. Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas is averaging 18.7 after scoring 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting in Game 3. Forward Drew Gooden is averaging 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds.

The Cavaliers stayed in command of the series despite blowing a 17-point halftime lead in Game 3.

“We came out, and we took too many jump shots,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said of Saturday’s third quarter. “Our first 10 possessions, I think there was about one shot four feet away from the hoop. We had one dunk. The rest of them were jump shots from 18 feet or [farther] and a couple turnovers. When you are in that situation on the road, you have to limit that.”

The Cavaliers have shot well in the series, making 47.4 percent of their field goals and 80 percent of their free throws. They also have outrebounded the Wizards by an average of 13 a game. However, Cleveland has been prone to lapses and has allowed a team missing its two All-Stars to be competitive.

Tonight, the Cavaliers plan to correct those mistakes.

“We feel if we play the right way, we give ourselves a chance to win,” said James, who had 30 points and nine assists in Game 3. “If we can take care of business [tonight], we are definitely going to have enough rest to recover from any nicks or injuries we might have or I might have. It always helps.”

The Cavaliers expect to see the same feisty effort from the undermanned Wizards as they have for most of the series.

“This is going to be the toughest game — to close it out,” Ilgauskas said. “The proud teams are not going to want it to happen on their floor. They are not going to want to be swept 4-0. We realize that, but we also know we are within striking distance.”

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