Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets: Just how average are the Nets?

Elsa

The Cleveland Cavaliers will face off against the Brooklyn Nets tonight. There are lots of really cool things about a basketball team being in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the team isn't that good.

Hello, Brooklyn! Everybody was super excited about the Nets moving to Brooklyn at the start of the season. They jumped out to an impressive 11-4 start. And now they are 15-14. In other words, they're pretty average. Can the Cavaliers take advantage of their average-ness and pull out a win on the road?

Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (7-24) at Brooklyn Nets (15-14)

When? 7:30 PM Eastern

Where? Barclays Center -- Brooklyn, NY

Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio

What's the line? Brooklyn -8.5

Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets

Brother/enemy blog? NetsDaily

Music?

That funky baritone sax!

The game and such:

So honestly, the Nets aren't a bad team -- they just aren't a good team. For all of the hype, they are clearly the second best team in New York and it isn't particularly close. You'll probably remember that last season I had the gall to criticize Deron Williams for his subpar play. And Nets fans freaked out at me. But if you fast forward a year from then to now, Williams is STILL playing some pretty poor basketball. How poor? The Nets have a net rating of -1.7 with him on the court. And they have a net rating of 2.7 with him off the court. The Nets are literally playing better without their "superstar" player. But I'm crazy for saying that Kyrie Irving is better than him? Give me a break.

Brook Lopez is, however, playing some damn good offense. He's shown the ability to knock down that midrange "jumper" (I use quotes because he doesn't really jump when he shoots it) and the ability to score on the block. Lopez just needs to stay healthy. Tom Haberstroh at ESPN suggested the idea of trading Anderson Varejao for Brook Lopez as a trade that would benefit both teams. I agree that the Nets are not very well constructed at the current moment and adding the rebounding and defense that Varejao brings would be a big plus. But is it worth trading the offensive abilities of Lopez? And would the Cavaliers want to take on Lopez's massive contract? I'm not so sure. But it's at least an interesting idea.

Andray Blatche has been a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure how long that will last.

Ultimately, the Nets are a really average team. They look great at times. And they look awful at other times. They'll probably make the playoffs in the East, but do you think any Western Conference playoff team is concerned about the big bad Brooklyn Nets? Not a chance.

On the Cavaliers side of the ball, they will be without Anderson Varejao again. He had a monster game last time out against the Nets, but the Cavs will have to do without the big Brazilian. Tristan Thompson has filled in admirably and Tyler Zeller seems to be sort of finding his groove. He needs serious work on toughness and defense, but his jumper looked much better against Atlanta. Tristan has bullied the Nets in the past, but this is a different team. It would be nice to see TT put up another double-double after failing to do so against the Hawks.

Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters both played great in the first half against the Hawks, but struggled in the second half. It would be super fun if both guys could play complete games. Kyrie has seemed to struggle late in games this year which is odd considering he was so good at it last year.

I can't believe I'm about to include Luke Walton in a preview, but I have to. He's been that good. Walton has provided a steady hand off the bench and acts as a coach on the floor. He knows where to be and makes smart, deliberate moves. It's weird, but Luke Walton has actually been a solid player for the Cavaliers recently.

Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction

I dunno. On the second night of a back to back, on the road, and without Anderson Varejao, the Cavaliers should probably lose this game. But I like pissing off Nets fans, so I'm predicting a Cleveland rout --- 107-88.

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