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Nets play host to the champs

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Nothing doing. The Nets went to Indiana to play the Pacers, and once again, they couldn’t get anything going and suffered another loss as a result. The road losing streak is up to 14 and everything is getting worse by the second.

Coming into town this evening will be the reigning NBA Champions. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been swamped by injuries (more on that in a bit), but they’ve held it down and are atop the Eastern Conference. They played the Bulls on Wednesday and lost 106-94. This is the first night of a six game road trip for Cleveland. After this, they’ll head to: Phoenix, Utah, Portland, Sacramento, and the main event in Golden State on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Should be fun.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.


No Jeremy Lin (hamstring) and probably no Rondae Hollis Jefferson (hip).

We’ve got a party here. J.R. Smith is recovering from thumb surgery he underwent a few weeks ago. Chris Andersen is out for the year with a torn ACL. Kyrie Irving has missed the last three games with a sore hamstring and is questionable for tonight. Kevin Love has been on the bad end of food poisoning recently and is questionable tonight. And to top it off, LeBron James is a bit under the weather. Yikes!!

The game

Cleveland won the first meeting a few weeks ago.

Cleveland was pretty busy yesterday. They made a trade with the Atlanta Hawks and acquired Kyle Korver in exchange for Mike Dunleavy and a protected first round pick. Korver is one of the best three point shooters in league history and will fit well with the Cavs either as a starting two guard while Jr is out or coming off the bench in the playoffs. Since the Hawks were in New Orleans last night and Cleveland is heading west after this game, Korver could make his debut later in the road trip. Our friends at Fear the Sword have more on the trade.

If there’s a good thing about injuries to your key players, it’s that it gives your role players more minutes to impress the coaching staff. The season is a slog and having your secondary players pick up the slack for a few weeks now could pay dividends down the line. For Cleveland, players like Jordan McRae, Kay Felder and DeAndre Liggins have a golden opportunity to make names for themselves and earn spots on the playoff roster come April. For Brooklyn, players like Isaiah Whitehead, Caris Levert and Spencer Dinwiddie have a chance to earn spots in the rotation when Lin/Hollis Jefferson as well as spots on the team going forward as Brooklyn continues the rebuilding process.

Even with two members of the Big Three out of action, having LeBron James is more than enough. Bron’s third in the league in minutes per game, but the Cavs have given him the occasional game off here and there to keep him fresh. James’ court vision has always been spectacular and is on pace to set a career high in assists per game. Looking at his place on the all time leaderboards, he’s 17 assists away from surpassing Tim Hardaway for 15th place in assists in NBA history. Bojan Bogdanovic will likely get the assignment of guarding LeBron. That might not end well for Brooklyn.

Player to watch: Tristan Thompson

With all the great scorers around him, TT can focus on doing the dirty work for Cleveland. He’s one of the league leaders in rebounding, does a quality job of defending the rim, is a solid post defender, and is great on both sides of the pick and roll. Everyone had jokes back in 2014 when he turned down Cleveland’s initial contract extension offer, but he went out and proved his worth and got rewarded handsomely for his efforts. Since then, he’s kept up the great work and will be an integral part of Cleveland’s efforts to defend their title come playoff time.

Assuming he plays, the Nets are going to need a lot more from Brook Lopez tonight. Lopez has struggled from the field the last three games, and coincidentally, the Nets have lost all three by double digits. We say it all the time, and it bears repeating: If Lopez doesn’t play well, the Nets have almost no chance of winning.

From the Vault

Richard Jefferson is out here dunking on fools like it’s 2004. So naturally, we’re heading back to 2004.

More reading: Fear the Sword