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Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers preview: Wait, there’s a game after the deadline??

By the time this game tips off, the trade deadline will have passed. Will these teams look any different?

Sacramento Kings v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It’s not a good time right now. In fact, it’s pretty bad. The Brooklyn Nets took on the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night and made a late run, but ultimately fell short once again. The Nets are now 20-30 and the season is slip sliding away. Some math: the Nets would have to go 21-11 the rest of the way to reach .500.

The opponent tonight has been on a tear. The Cleveland Cavaliers have stampeded up the Eastern Conference standings and find themselves in second place heading into tonight’s contest. They pushed their winning streak to seven with a road win against the Washington Wizards last night.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Dorian Finney-Smith, Cam Johnson, Day’Ron Sharpe, Dariq Whitehead, and Lonnie Walker IV are out. Jalen Wilson and Noah Clowney have been called up from Long Island. If there’s a trade or two, don’t expect any new guys to play. Everyone in a trade has to pass physicals before anyone can play. In a multi-team deal, that could get complicated.

Night two of a back-to-back so we’ll see who sits for Cleveland.

The game

Cleveland won the first meeting on Opening Night and the second game in Paris.

It’s deadline day, and it appears as if things are quiet in Nets land. Brooklyn has a lot of players they have to make decisions on and see if there’s a great opportunity to make themselves better in the future. Stranger things have happened so we’ll see how the day progresses.

In the mean time, the Nets will have to contend with Donovan Mitchell. When the last saw the All Star guard, he lit them up to the tune of 45 points.

Might the manifest for the Cavs flight out of town include a Nets player? There were reports out of Cleveland yesterday that the Cavs may have interest in Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale.

Chris Fedor, the long-time Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer, wrote that the Nets two 3-and-D specialists are still in the Cavs sights, as is Lonnie Walker IV. (Jake Fischer wrote Tuesday that the Celtics are also interested in the 25-year-old who is on a one-year, vets minimum deal.) Early Thursday, Mike Scotto of Hoopshype confirmed Cleveland’s interest in O’Neale.

Fedor was ambiguous about who might the Cavs offer in return but he has previously reported that the Nets have been interested int Dean Wade, the Cavs own 6’9” 27-year-old 3-and-D type. Wade is considerably less expensive as well as younger than the two Nets. While DFS will earn $13.9 million this season and nearly $30 million, including a player option beyond this season, O’Neale is an expiring and Wade will earn $5.6 million, the first year of a three-year, $18 million contract.

Player to watch: Evan Mobley

Nic Claxton will have a tall task tonight. He had a full night on defense and occasionally got the assignment of defending Luka Doncic. Clax did pretty well for himself...

Mobley is a different animal. He’s much like Clax with a lean, athletic frame who can rebound (a bit better than Claxton) and block shots (a bit worse.) But he can also score. The 6’11” 22-year-old is averaging 16.0 points with shooting splits of 58/41/77. The 3-point shooting prowess is new but it’s rarely seen. He’s taken only 17 shots from deep this season.

Against Washington on Wednesday, he showed just what he can do in Cleveland’s offense. He was 9-of-10 overall and 2-of-2 from deep for 22 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds, all in 24 minutes. He also had a block, an assist and a steal. It will be test ... and of course, Mobley won’t be the only big to worry about. Our old friend Jarrett Allen is having a career year at age 25, averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 boards and 2.8 assists and 1.0 blocks. Miss ya, big guy.

And we haven’t even talked about the Cavs other All-Star beyond Donovan Mitchell. Scotty Barnes. Tough opponent.

From the Vault

The Grammys were on Sunday evening, and Cleveland hero Tracy Chapman stole the show when she performed Fast Car with Luke Combs. As Tom Breihan wrote at Stereogum

I wish I could make anything that will be as timelessly loved as “Fast Car” — that I could write a blog post and come out and read it decades from now, to a rapturous reception. It sure looks nice.

True indeed. With that in mind, let’s revisit the all time classic

More reading: Fear the Sword, SB Nation NBA, Cavs: The Blog