CLEVELAND — Always colorful Gilbert Arenas will get his wish: His Washington Wizards will play the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight season.
Home-court advantage is still up in the air, but the Cavaliers and Wizards locked up the fourth and fifth spots in the Eastern Conference when Toronto lost to Detroit on Sunday.
“I think everybody wants Cleveland in the first round,” Arenas wrote in a recent blog. “They’ve been a .500 team ever since they made that trade (for Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith and Delonte West) and everybody wants a chance at that matchup.”
Arenas has stopped talking with the media — imagine Cleveland guard Damon Jones refusing to speak as a means of comparison — and said he will stop blogging soon, but that didn’t keep him from taking a shot at the Cavaliers late last week.
“We want Cleveland for our own reasons,” Arenas wrote. “We don’t think they can beat us in the playoffs for three years straight.”
The Cavaliers, who are 13-12 since their big trade, beat the Wizards in six games in 2006 and swept an injury-ravaged Washington team last year.
“Did he say something?” Cleveland’s LeBron James said when Arenas’ blog was brought up. “That’s Gilbert. He’s always talking. It’s all cool.”
James wasn’t so diplomatic when asked if being called “overrated” by Washington shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson added to the rivalry.
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say about that. Absolutely.”
The Cavaliers lead the Wizards by two games, but Washington owns the tiebreaker if the teams end up with identical records.
“They’re a good team,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “I don’t even want to think about them right now. If we’re not careful, we’re going to play our first two (playoff) games on the road.”
The Cavaliers conclude the regular season with a game in Philadelphia tonight and a home game vs. Detroit on Wednesday.
“We’re in the driver’s seat for (home-court advantage),” Brown said. “Hopefully, we can take care of business.”
James tied his franchise record with 24 points in the first quarter Friday in Chicago, when he made all 10 of his shots from the field, but many of his teammates got caught watching him the rest of the night. James went just 3-of-11 from the field and scored 10 points over the final three quarters as the Cavaliers lost for the sixth time in nine games.
“I don’t want him to be hesitant at all at the beginning of the game because he feels like he has to get guys involved,” Brown said. “We as a team have to continue to play no matter what.”
Prior to the Heat game, Brown said it’s virtually impossible for a team to play with a sense of urgency for 48 minutes every time out, but the goal should be to get as close to that as possible, as often as possible.
“I believe in these guys,” Brown said. “I’m looking forward to seeing it get done.”
In the Cleveland locker room, “Sense of urgency for 48 minutes” was written at the bottom of a chalkboard that detailed Miami’s tendencies and the Cavaliers’ game plan.
James was happy to see Miami guard Dwyane Wade shut it down to rest his knee after playing in just 51 games this season.
“You never want to see a good friend go through a season like this,” James said.
The Heat is 14-66 and is a lock to finish with the worst record in the league.
“I can’t imagine going out and not knowing if your teammates are going to compete,” James said.