Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: Nets Daily
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports Go
Cavaliers injuries: Kevin Love (OUT - hand)’
Nets injuries: Jahlil Okafor (QUESTIONABLE - Illness), Jeremy Lin (OUT - Ruptured patella tendon/right ankle)
Three keys to the game
- The Cavs are coming off a game where they shot 8-34 from three and couldn’t catch up once they fell behind at the start of the fourth quarter. Against the Nets, who aren’t as good as the Spurs, but will play disciplined basketball and execute a system. Shooting better as a team - looking at you specifically, J.R. Smith and George Hill - would go a long way.
- On the wing, the Nets have wings that move well and will get shots off. Allen Crabbe, for instance, scored 21 points against the Bulls last night and Joe Harris added 15 points off the bench in the same game. Both could get hot from behind the arc. Good defensive performances from Smith, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman and Kyle Korver will matter.
- Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. should have a significant advantage inside against the Nets. There is no LaMarcus Aldridge-type to contend with, and slowing down Jarrett Allen and Quincy Acy is a manageable task. The Nets do play smaller and quicker, so it will be interesting to see how willing the Cavs are to let Thompson and Nance switch onto smaller players.
- A bonus key to the game: It would not be surprising to LeBron James roam on defense more than normal in this game considering who he is likely to guard.
The Nets’ strongest position is point guard, where Spencer Dinwiddie is legitimately good - hence why the Cavs reportedly were willing to give up a first round pick for him at the trade deadline - and D’Angelo Russell has his moments. If George Hill - who did not play at all well against the Spurs on Sunday - and Jordan Clarkson can out play their counterparts, it’s hard to see how Brooklyn finds a way to beat the Cavs. Hill’s ability as a defender should be particularly valuable against Dinwiddie.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Nets are pesky - they did beat the Cavs earlier this year - and aren’t actively tanking like some of the other teams at their level. Still, Cleveland should be better. Cavs 110, Nets 102.