Two straight. The Nets built on their Saturday night victory over the Sixers and beat up on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. They got a bit of help from the Utah Jazz after they beat the Charlotte Hornets by 28 points and the Toronto Raptors after they embarrassed the Indiana Pacers, but Brooklyn is still on the outside looking in. It's not an impossible task, but the Nets are gonna need a lot of help to sneak into the playoffs.
Awaiting the Nets will be the resurgent Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs got off to a bit of a bumpy start to begin the year, but that's water under the bridge at this point. They've gone on an amazing run over the past couple of months and are firmly in the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They were on a four game winning streak but got stomped out by the Heat on Monday. It happens.
Where to follow the game
YES Network for TV, WFAN 101.9 FM for radio. Tip-off's after 7 PM.
Everybody's that able to play can play for the Nets.Of course, Mirza Teletovic and Sergey Karasev are done for the season.
LeBron James is dealing with a knee injury so he might take the night off. Kevin Love didn't play on Sunday and Monday so he could get some extra rest for his back, but he should be good to go tonight.
What's the story? Let's get into it:
Offensive Rebounding Rate
Free Throw Rate
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage
The Nets will be trying to tie their longest winning streak of the season. They've won three straight games on three occasions (December 21-26, December 29-January 2, and February 2-6). One of the frustrating things about the Nets this year has been their inability to string together an extended streak. Now would be the perfect time for Brooklyn to pull off a big run. With the exception of three nights (march 29 against the Lakers, April 1 vs the Knicks and April 15 against Orlando), every game from here on out will be against a team that's already in or competing for a playoff spot.
The Cavs are looking mighty different from when the Nets last saw them in mid December. In a pair of trades, they picked up Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith. They sent out Dion Waiters and some first round picks, but that's the cost of business and if the Cavs can win the Championship, it'll be more than worth it.
Even if Bron takes the night off, the Nets will have an incredibly tough time dealing with Kyrie Irving. Irving has had an amazing season and owns the two highest individual scoring marks this year in the NBA. Coming into the season, a lot of people (myself included) had questions about Kyrie. Fear the Sword's David Zavac spoke to me about them and also provided some needed context to Kyrie's first couple of years in the Association. He told me:
What he's done is averaging 22 points and five assists while setting career highs in field goal percentage and minutes per game while committing even fewer turnovers than usual. On a superficial note, he's fun to watch when he's at his best. Deron Williams will be the one matched up with Irving. Deron's had an iffy season, but all will be forgiven if he can go on a big run to close out the season.
Mozgov has been exactly what the Cavaliers needed on defense. Interior defense was an issue for Cleveland in the first two months of the season, but that hasn't been a problem when Moz is on the court. Opponents are only shooting 45.2 percent at the rim against him since he joined the Cavs. Brook Lopez will be dealing with Mozgov throughout the night. Lopez had an excellent night against Minnesota, but he'll be facing much tougher competition here. Brook has gotten a lot of looks near the rim in the second half, but is shooting a ghastly 48.6 percent inside of eight feet.
Player to watch: J.R. Smith
Seriously, J.R. has been good for the Cavs. Since the trade, he's upped his field goal percentages and has been a net positive. He's even out here making extra passes! He's always a risk to shoot your team out of a ball game, but when he's on his game, he can get hot from three point range and make teams suffer for leaving him open as they chase LeBron and Kyrie around.
For tonight, Bojan Bogdanovic figures to see a lot of time at the two guard. Bojan had arguably his best game of the season on Monday, and if he wants to see some more minutes, he'll need to continue playing like that. Markel Brown has played since joining the starting lineup and will spend time covering Bron (if he plays) and Smith.
From the Vault
It's NCAA Tournament time, and with that in mind, we're headed back to the 2008 Final Four between Memphis and UCLA. Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, and Russell Westbrook on the court at the same time? We can do that.
More reading: Fear The Sword
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Cleveland Cavalier Game Notes - Cleveland Cavaliers
- Nets-Cavaliers Preview - Taylor Bechtold - STATS LLC
- How Nets’ Bojan Bogdanovic has become a key contributor - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Thaddeus Young is a $10M crossroads for next season’s Nets - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets face test vs. LeBron James, Cavaliers - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets' next four games are against playoff-hungry opponents - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Nets center Brook Lopez set to break ground on Disney home - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Don’t count these Nets out just yet - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- Nets move up in class against King James and the Cavaliers - Sean Flattery - The Brooklyn Game
- Shawn Marion returns to floor hopeful his postseason experience will prove helpful to Cavaliers - Jason Lloyd - Akron Beacon-Journal
- LeBron James could feel the Heat in the playoffs - and everything else you need to know this week - Joe Vardon - Cleveland Plain-Dealer
LeBron James' postgame catch is evidence that his vision extends beyond court - Chris Haynes - Cleveland Plain-Dealer