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Nets come home to face the Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Almost had it. The Brooklyn Nets went into Orlando looking to push their winning streak to three games. They had their chances late, but ultimately fell short by four points. They can’t linger on that loss too much because they’ve got to get back to work.

The opponent tonight will be the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are looking different these days but are still the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. They got a good challenge from the Chicago Bulls last night, but pulled away late and came away with a seven point win at home last night.

Where to follow the game

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


No new news for the Nets. Just the loss of Lin.

Isaiah Thomas is recovering from surgery he underwent late last season and should be back around January. Derrick Rose sprained his ankle on Friday and has missed the last two games. He’s out tonight. Jr Smith has been dealing with a back issue the past few days, but played last night and is likely to play tonight.

The game

There was a mini controversy surrounding the Cavs, but it was taken care of internally. Dwyane Wade had been starting, but he was unimpressive throughout the first three games of the year. He then went to Ty Lue and offered to take on a bench role with Jr returning to the starting five. Lue went on to rearrange his starting lineup a bit more, reinserting Smith and Tristan Thompson into the starting five, which left a lineup of Thompson-Kevin Love-Jae Crowder- Smith and...

LeBron James at point guard. Sure Bron always has the ball in his hands a bunch, but it still feels funny seeing him listed at point guard. That said, he’s his usual dominant self. The averages are always there (27.3-6.8-8), but he’s shooting even better than usual and is on pace to set career bests in field goal, three point, and free throw percentages. When you surround him with great shooters and cutters, it becomes practically impossible to defend him as he’ll always find the open man or just bulldoze you as he gets an easy shot. A lot of Nets will get their chance to guard him, and I’m guessing DeMarre Carroll will be first up. He has experience (not good experience mind you, but experience nonetheless) guarding him in Toronto, and he’ll try to rely on that to slow James down.

If the Nets want to pull off the upset, they’re going to have to limit the turnovers. If they can, they can catch the Cavs slipping early with great ball movement that will free up their three point shooters. They’re coming off a dreadful night from deep in Orlando (11-37), but that’s unlikely to happen two nights in a row and everybody tends to play better in front of the home crowd. If they get sloppy with the ball, Cleveland will win this one in a runaway.

On the other side, D’Angelo Russell will be looking to put another big game together. He scored a team high 29 points, but a few missed shots and a turnover late spoiled his night. One great thing about Russell is he isn’t scared to take big shots. You need guys like that on your roster and as he continues to improve, he’ll steal a lot of games for the Nets. If I had to guess, I’d say Crowder will be assigned to guard DLo at the beginning of the game. With this being the second night of a back-to-back for Cleveland, look for Iman Shumpert to play a big role for Cleveland tonight. He only played 14 minutes against the Bulls and is someone that can hassle Russell up and down the court.

Player to watch: Kevin Love

With Kyrie Irving in Boston, Love has taken on a greater role in Ty Lue's offense. His usage rate is up from last season and he’s been getting to the free throw line at the best rate since his Minnesota days. By making greater use of Love, it opens up his game and makes life a lot easier for his teammates. The Cavs have been using him at Center a lot and that makes an already dangerous lineup damn near impossible. The big test will come later this year when playing teams like Golden State and Houston, but for now, you can live with Love’s defense on the other side of the ball.

Trevor Booker should get a little more playing time tonight. He’s got enough bulk to pester Love when he gets into the post and is quick enough to rotate to him when guarding the pick and roll. We should see Jarrett Allen get a chance to guard Love as well. It’ll be a great test for the youngster and if he’s able to help improve Brooklyn’s pick and roll defense, it’ll go a long way in speeding up his development.

From the Vault

This Sunday marks the 14 year anniversary of LeBron’s debut into the NBA. That pass to a trailing Ricky Davis is still one of my absolute favorite plays from him.

More reading: Fear the Sword