The Wizards would know. They’ve played the Cavaliers in the first round of playoffs the past three seasons, series typified by rough play and rowdy crowds.
Cleveland’s home streak has caught their eye.
“It’s very impressive,” forward Antawn Jamison said. “History has shown only one other team has had only one loss at home. This team is on the verge of that. You have to give it up to not only this team, but the fans and the way they make this a very difficult place to come in and try to win. These guys feed off the home crowd.”
Tying the Celtics’ 24-year-old record isn’t the only thing on the Cavaliers’ agenda.
With a win at Philadelphia on Friday, they can clinch the Eastern Conference’s best record and No. 1 playoff seed, plus home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Cleveland, which has four games left, holds a one-game lead over the Lakers for the league’s best mark.
The top team at the end of the regular season would host the first two and last two games of the finals, the only postseason series with a 2-3-2 format.
Right now, the Cavs’ focus is on Philadelphia, a playoff-bound team they’ve beaten twice this season and will play two times in the next five days. The Celtics will come calling Sunday for a possible preview of the Eastern finals. Boston, which hosts Miami on Friday, has a one-game lead over Orlando for the No. 2 spot.
“There’s a lot hanging for both teams,” Ilgauskas said. “They are fighting for positioning and we’re fighting for home court. Both teams are going to want to send a message for the playoffs. This is the last time you can do it.”
The Cavs are the first team since the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls to win 38 of their first 39 at home. Those Bulls went 39-2 at home and won the NBA championship. So did the ’85-86 Celtics.
The chance to win a title is what brought Smith back. He bought out the remainder of his contract with the Thunder in early March for a chance to rejoin the Cavs, who reluctantly traded him last summer in the deal that brought guard Mo Williams to Cleveland.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“Shhh,” he said. “Don’t jinx me.”
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