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Nets try to bounce back vs. Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s starting to pile up. On Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets opened up a two game set against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets made a big push late, but ultimately fell short and the Cavs took game one. The Nets are still in sixth place, but by one percentage point (!!!) after the Miami Heat beat the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Once this game wraps up, the Cavs have two days off before returning home to play the Houston Rockets.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.


No Ben Simmons.

All clear for Cleveland.

The game

Brooklyn won game one back in December and the Cavs got the one on Tuesday. This is the last regular season meeting between the two teams.

Yesterday at PS 001, Cam Johnson, Jacque Vaughn, Jonquel Jones and members of the New York Liberty and Brooklyn Nets announced a partnership with NYC Public Schools to expand their community based youth basketball clinics. NetsDaily was in the building for the event, and we’ll have a story on the site soon.

Long-range shooting will tell the tale once again. The Cavs won that battle 14-9 on Tuesday night, and for the Nets, they can’t afford to fall short from behind the arc. Could the Nets trade some three attempts for more shots at the rim and the free throws that would likely accompany it? It wouldn’t hurt.

Our old pal Caris Levert had a pretty solid game, and his play off the bench will determine a lot for the Cavs in the playoffs. Over at Fear the Sword, Jackson Flickinger wrote about Levert and said:

Cutting down on midrange shots and getting a larger portion of his attempts coming from three is going to create spacing while making the offense function better even when he inevitably cools off from three.

The Cavs have the best point differential in the league despite not having many five-man lineups that functionally make sense. That, along with shaky bench rotations, is why the Cavs aren’t expected to make a deep postseason run like you’d typically expect one with the best net rating to do.

LeVert becoming a more willing shooter, like he has the last five games, elevates what has been one of the Cavs’ best five-man units while also bolstering a streaky bench unit.

It takes a total team effort in the playoffs when things get harder.

For the first time in a while, the Nets won the rebound battle. They outrebounded the Cavs 49-34, and they snatched 19 offensive rebounds on the evening. A lot of that credit goes to Day’Ron Sharpe, who grabbed nine offensive rebounds as he scored 20 points. Brooklyn likes to play small, but they still need to be a million times better on the glass. The team has two backup bigs to spell Nic Claxton, and they need them to play well and play with force when they’re on the court.

Speaking of Clax, he’ll do battle with Jarrett Allen again tonight. JA made his return from an eye injury and looked pretty solid. Clax continued to play at an exceptional level and is doing what he can to protect the paint. If the Nets win the board battle again, they’ll be able to get out on the move and try to get easier shots within the flow of the offense.

Player to watch: Donovan Mitchell


My, my, my. For the Nets, the job tonight will be to keep Mitchell from going off again. Aside from that monster dunk, he was fully in control of the game as he made five three pointers in route to 31 points. Mitchell does so many things well on the court, and if he’s able to keep the Nets honest from deep, it’ll give his big fellas more room to breathe on the interior.

If Mikal Bridges can keep creating offense and scoring like this ...

... then we’re cooking with gas. Sure you’d like for him to not go 0-8 from three point range, but Bridges always being able to find his spots in the midrange and score efficiently will allow him to always be a scoring threat. The next step to stardom is how you bounce back from a subpar game, and how Bridges handles this adversity will help him a great deal as he continues to adjust to being the leading option.

From the Vault

On Tuesday, the world lost an icon as Willis Reed passed away at the age of 80. Reed was a legend in New York and for HBCUs as well. Ian Eagle spoke about his relationship with Reed when he worked for the Nets here. Let’s revisit his greatest moment from the people who were there to witness it

And later tonight, Gonzaga and UCLA will face off in the Men’s Sweet 16. These teams have danced before and probably have another all time game and moments awaiting us

More reading: Fear the Sword