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Cavaliers vs. Nets: The Great Ping-Pong Ball War

The Sloan Shark will try to collect on the Nets. I apologize for that.
The Sloan Shark will try to collect on the Nets. I apologize for that.

With the Cavaliers coming off a win against the Raptors, the race for the fourth best lottery odds becomes a little more interesting. Cleveland and New Jersey are tied at 23.5 games back each, but with the Cavs having a worse winning percentage as of now. The Cavs lead the season series 2-1.

Tonight's Overview:

Cleveland Cavaliers(18-35) at New Jersey Nets (20-37)

The last time these two teams met, Tristan Thompson had a career night, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds en route to a 105-100 Cavalier victory. Part of the reason for that offensive explosion was the Nets' lack of a big, physical center to bother Tristan on the inside. He ran free much of the night, grabbed offensive rebounds, and cut for easy baskets. With Brook Lopez still out for the Nets, and likely to miss the remainder of the season with a sprained ankle, Tristan will once again have a favorable matchup.

Another part of Tristan's offensive explosion against the Nets last time had to do with Kyrie Irving's ability to find him inside and get him touches. The Cavs' D-League call-ups Donald Sloan and Lester Hudson have had trouble getting the ball to Thompson in favorable spots. Hudson had a surprisingly solid offensive performance against the Raptors last game, scoring 23 points on 6-14 shooting, 11-14 from the free throw line, plus 7 assists and 3 steals. That game might have secured him a berth on the Cavaliers after his initial 10-day contract runs out, as the Cavs certainly can use some additional scoring considering Kyrie's extended absence.

Alonzo Gee has been struggling of late, as was Antawn Jamison until last game's 4th quarter performance, scoring a career high 16 in the 4th to lead the Cavs to an untimely victory. He was bound to have a good shooting performance after his abysmal stretch of games recently (and it just so happened to bump the Cavs out of the top 4 lottery odds).

Key Matchup:

Kyrie Irving's shoulder vs. Brook Lopez's ankle

Because the loss is really what's important in this one, right?

Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:

Time to hop back on the tank. The Cavs' backcourt will prove to be a problem defensively against the much bigger and athletic backcourt of New Jersey. A 98-90 New Jersey win will put the Cavs back in the driver's seat for the 4th best lottery odds.