They're still in it. After a disastrous game on Monday against the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets went on the road and beat the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night 91-88. They're still on the outside looking on, but are a few breaks away from regaining the eighth seed. More on that in a minute.
Coming into the Barclays Center will be the resurgent Cleveland Cavaliers. So much for those early season concerns ha? While they won't end up with the number one seed, they do have a firm lead on second place in the Eastern Conference standings. They opened up a can of whoop ass in Memphis and beat the Grizzlies by 22 points on Wednesday night. They've won four straight games and ten out of thirteen games this month.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip is after 7:30.
Hand in hand
Here's an updated look at the standings and tiebreakers at the bottom of the East
|Team||Record||Games behind||Tiebreaker situation|
|Milwaukee||36-36||-||own tiebreaker over Hornets and Heat, split series vs. Pacers, lead 1-0 vs. Celtics (next games are 4/3 and the last day of the season, 4/15), lead 2-1 vs. Nets (final meeting on 4/12)|
|Miami||33-38||-||own tiebreaker over Nets and Celtics, down 2-1 to Hornets (final meeting on 4/7), lost series vs. Pacers and Bucks|
|Indiana||31-41||-||split series with Bucks, tied with Nets (third and final meeting on 3/31), own tiebreaker vs. Hornets and Heat, down 2-1 vs. Celtics (final meeting 4/1)|
|Boston||31-40||0.5||Won season series vs. Nets, down 1-0 to Bucks, up 2-1 vs. Pacers, tied vs. Hornets (third and final meeting on 3/30)|
|Brooklyn||30-40||0.5||own tiebreaker vs. Charlotte, lost season series vs. Celtics, tied with Pacers, lost season series to Miami, down 2-1 to Milwaukee|
|Charlotte||30-40||0.5||lost season series to Brooklyn, lead 2-1 vs. Heat, lost season series vs. Pacers, tied vs. Boston, won season series vs. Bucks|
Tonight, Miami travels to Atlanta, Charlotte goes to Washington, and Boston plays the Knicks.
Thaddeus Young will miss this game due to a left knee strain. It's unlikely he plays on Sunday against the Lakers. Unless they sign someone, the Nets will be down to 11 healthy bodies vs. the Cavaliers, with Young, Mirza Teletovic and Sergey Karasev all out, the latter two for the season.
All of the Cavs are good to go.
What's the story here? Let's get into it:
|Offensive rebounding rate||23.7||26.8|
|Free throw rate||27.2||29.3|
|Effective field goal percentage||48.8||51.9|
|Opponent effective field goal percentage||50.2||50.1|
The Cavs won the first game in early December, the second in mid December, and the third earlier this month.
30's been kind to LeBron James. Bron's having another solid season, averaging around 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds a game. This is shaping up to be Bron's worst season since the 2006-2007 campaign, but that's relative to his amazing standards. That being said, he's still been one of the best players in the league this year and has a good chance of winning his fifth MVP award. If he does get it, that will tie him with Bill Russell and Michael Jordan for second most all time. Joe Johnson will be matched up with Bron, and he's going to need to get things together ASAP. He only had five points in 35 minutes on Wednesday after scoring only six on Monday. He's having one of the worst seasons of his career and looks lost on the court. If he's not knocking down his shots, LeBron will have an incredibly easy night on defense and will have more energy to go crazy on offense if necessary.
Deron Williams' shot hasn't been there, but at least he's setting his teammates up. D-Will handed out 14 assists on Wednesday and ten on Monday. He and Jarrett Jack will be responsible for trying to slow down Kyrie Irving. Irving has had a terrific season and can take over a game even when LeBron is on the court. A lot of people (myself included) had questions as to whether Kyrie would work well with Bron, but those questions look silly right now. Irving can break down defenders at will, finish well at the rim, and his three point shooting creates difficulties for whoever's guarding him. When Jack is on the court, everything seems to go backwards for the Nets. Williams has gotten most of the minutes at point guard recently, and that should continue here.
Getting the ball to Brook Lopez should continue to be priorities one through ten for the Nets. He led the team in scoring for the fourth straight game, scoring 34 points against the Hornets. Lopez is feeling great and as long as he's on the court, the offense should run through him. He'll be facing the anchor of the Cavs interior defense and one of the best rim protectors in the Association. Timofey Mozgov has been excellent since joining the Cavs and when the playoffs, he will be able to make life difficult for big men like Pau Gasol and Jonas Valanciunas. Players are only shooting 45.3 percent at the rim when he is nearby. That shouldn't deter Brooklyn from getting Lopez the ball. Brook is one of the best scoring centers in the league and if they can get Moz in foul trouble, the defensive drop off between Mozgov and Tristan Thompson would work incredibly well for the Nets.
Player to watch: Kevin Love
It's been an incredibly interesting season for the former All Star big man. He's had to adjust to a new, diminished role on offense. He's been injured. And most recently, he got in some trouble for saying Russell Westbrook would be his pick for MVP this year. Last month, Trevor Magnotti of Fear the Sword took a look at Love and wrote:
Love may not be putting up the gaudy numbers that we were used to when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves. But despite his early struggles and controversy about his relationship with LeBron James, Love has been incredibly effective over the past month. His offense has become more about quality over quantity, and defensively, he's contributed to the recent God-status of the Cavs' D thanks to his individual defense and budding relationship with Mozgov. If he keeps playing like this, it won't matter that his scoring is down. The Cavs will be getting an incredibly efficient Love, and that's a Love that this team can absolutely succeed with.
Without Young, expect the Nets to start Mason Plumlee in his place. The Lopez-Plumlee pairing didn't work earlier in the season, and after this two game stint shouldn't be used again. Even if he doesn't play well, Love presents a great challenge to Plumlee. He can draw him out to the perimeter with his three point shooting or post him up on the inside. Cory Jefferson might be a more preferable matchup here, but he probably won't see any meaningful minutes.
From the Vault
Take a trip back to the last time Cleveland won a playoff game.
More reading: Fear The Sword, At The Hive, Celtics Blog, Hot, Hot Hoops, Indy Cornrows, and Brew Hoop
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Cleveland Cavalier Game Notes - Cleveland Cavaliers
- Cavaliers-Nets Preview - AP
- Nets could ride Lopez's go-to shot into playoffs - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Brook Lopez still here, still going strong - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Thaddeus Young to miss Nets' game against Cavs because of strained knee - Colin Stephenson - Newsday
- Kevin Love Shows What He Can Do as Cavaliers See What They Can Be - Scott Cacciola - New York Times
- How Kyrie Irving has changed since teaming up with LeBron - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- Nets’ Thaddeus Young out at least 1 game with knee strain - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- The sign Brook Lopez has really found his walk-year mojo - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets' Thaddeus Young to miss showdown with Cavs - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- What Have the Brooklyn Nets Found with Cory Jefferson? - Fred Katz - Bleacher Report
- With confidence fully developed, Kyrie Irving feels at home with Cavaliers - Jason Lloyd - Akron Beacon-Journal