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Nets hope to break streak as Cavaliers arrive in Brooklyn

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Nets predictably dropped another game to the Wizards on Saturday night. A back-to- back after a devastating double overtime loss spelled disaster. I’ve really had it with the back-to-backs. I can’t remember a two-month stretch where the Nets played so many and it’s really hurting their on court production. You can just tell they’re tired at times. They’ll get a day of rest before facing the Cavaliers who are probably the worst team in the league.

Kind of amazing to consider just how badly this team is after losing LeBron, that run of four straight finals appearances and one win shouldn’t be overlooked. He dragged those teams there every season and the moment he leaves they fall apart completely. He’s something else. Anyway, the Cavs have a new interim head coach, no Kyle Korver, and four wins. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one at 7:30 p.m, ET.

Injuries

Caris Levert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are out. Joe Harris has missed the last two games with a sore groin. Hopefully taking the weekend off will be enough to get him back on the court. Dzanan Musa has been called up from Long Island. Both he and Rodions Kurucs will be available.

Kevin Love (toe) is out for a while, possibly until January. Sam Dekker (ankle) David Nwaba (knee) and Ante Zizic (knee) have all missed time recently and are likely to miss this one as well.

The Game

The Cavaliers, mercifully, are terrible. The Nets are on a six-game losing streak —tied for the worst in the NBA— and need any and all breaks they can possibly get at this point. A home game against the worst team in the conference and probably the league? Sign me right up. (Of course, it should be noted that the Cavs are 3-7 in the last 10 games, one better than the Nets.)

Without Kevin Love, the hierarchy of Cavaliers gets a little muddled. I genuinely am not sure who the best player on their team is when Love is out. Is it Jordan Clarkson? Maybe, but he’s quite literally one of the worst defensive players in the league. Is it Tristan Thompson? Could be, but that’s just as sad. The bottom line is that this team is terrible and they’re probably going to end up winning their millionth first overall pick of the decade and get Zion and it’s going to be infuriating.

The Nets are just 4-13 against the Cavaliers since 2014, but with Lebron out of town it’s time to start reversing that trend. After that last paragraph, it’s hard not to think about who’s the best player on the Nets.

It’s tempting to declare Caris Levert the alpha, but he’s injured and will have to recover for a while even when he’s back on the court. Plus, borderline All-Star Caris really only had a 14-game sample size, we don’t know if he can do that for a couple months let alone a whole season. It’s also tempting to determine it’s D’Angelo Russell, who probably has the highest ceiling both in games and for his career, but he just can’t seem to put it all together often enough.

If we aggregate a couple of advanced metrics, Jarrett Allen has actually been the most valuable Net on the court this season. With a 127 ORtg and 109 DRtg and a 0.8 VORP plus 2.3 Win Shares, he leads all Nets starters and is second to only Ed Davis in the ratings categories. The second year Center is having an awesome season.

Speaking of big men, the Cavs are actually a pretty small team with their starting Center, Thompson, standing at just 6’9. He’s joined by 6’8” Cedi Osman who starts at power forward and Larry Nance Jr. who comes off the bench and is an athletic 6’9”, like a baby Aaron Gordon. That’s basically it for now with the injuries they’ve been dealing with. Channing Frye might come in and play a few spot minutes here and there, but the big man rotation is a glaring weak spot for this Cavaliers team and one the Nets should take advantage of with Allen and Davis.

The Cavs, needless to say, are last in the league in blocks per game with 2.3 and 22nd in rebounds with 43.5. The Nets aren’t world-beaters in either of those categories, clocking in at 27th in blocks and 17th in boards, but they’re better than the Cavs! This is a game the Nets essentially have to win if they want to have any semblance of competitiveness this season. If they can’t, it’s time to start watching some Duke games.

Player To Watch

Collin Sexton is an interesting prospect. He’s a tough point guard who’s a little rough around the edges, but his shooting numbers have been surprisingly impressive this season. 44% from the field and 40% from three is great for a rookie on a horrible team, and while his peripheral numbers are bad, some of that can be attributed to the mess he’s surrounded by. Look for him to put up some points against Russell and Dinwiddie, but not enough to carry his team. Hopefully.

From The Vault

Some appreciation for the Fro.

Enjoy.

For a different perspective, head on over to Fear the Sword, the Cavaliers sister site on SB Nation.