The Cavs will try to back up their impressive double overtime win on Wednesday as they take on the Brooklyn Nets again tonight.
How to watch:
Tip-off is at 7:30PM on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass.
The Cavs will be without Kevin Love (calf) and Matthew Dellavedova (concussion). Dylan Windler is expected to be back in the lineup tonight as he was held out of last game do to a clerical error. Darius Garland will be a game time decision, but I would expect him to make his return tonight.
Kevin Durant is out (right Achilles injury recovery) for the Nets. This isn’t too surprising given he played 50 minutes on Wednesday and Brooklyn plays again on Saturday. I would expect the Nets to start former Cavalier Joe Harris in his place.
Cavs: Darius Garland / Collin Sexton / Isaac Okoro / Larry Nance Jr. / Andre Drummond
Nets: Kyrie Irving / James Harden / Joe Harris / Jeff Green / DeAndre Jordan
Things to watch for:
- The Big Three bounce back: For whatever reason, it’s been common for newly formed Big Threes to lose their first game together like the Nets did Wednesday night. The 2011 Heat lost their first game with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh to the Celtics. The 2015 Cavs lost their first game with James, Love, and Irving to the Knicks. Even the 2017 Warriors lost their first game with Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson to the Spurs. Each of those teams bounced back with wins in their next games after being overly criticized by the national media. The new Big Three in Brooklyn will look to follow their predecessors with a bounce back win tonight.
- Isaac Okoro vs. James Harden: Okoro more than held his own against Harden in the first matchup. The former MVP was held to just 21 points in over 50 minutes of play. The rookie had a big role in this as he was able to keep Harden uncomfortable while not letting him get to the line. Spencer Davies from basketballnews.com has a solid story about Okoro’s defense on Harden if you’re looking for a deeper dive into Wednesday’s game. It’ll be interesting to see how Okoro fares against Harden as we can assume the Nets will look to prioritize getting Harden involved early tonight.
- The center rotation: J.B. Bickerstaff went with the hot hand at center on Wednesday as Jarrett Allen got the nod over Drummond down the stretch of the fourth quarter and throughout overtime. JaVale McGee, who has been fantastic in his role this year, didn’t see any action. It’ll be interesting to see how Bickerstaff balances Allen and Drummond going forward. Both are good, but bring different things to the table. We’ll see if Bickerstaff stays with the “hot hand” approach or if he opts to close tonight’s game with his starting lineup.
- Cedi Osman is on a hot streak: I wrote about how interesting of a season it’s been for Osman in my recent what we learned article. He’s had an unusual year as he’s been extremely hit and miss. Fortunately for the Cavs, the last three games have been hits as he’s averaging 22.3 points per game with a 58.7 effective field percentage. The Cavs will need more of the same from Osman tonight.
- Collin Sexton vs. Kyrie Irving: This lived up to the hype in the first game as both players traded blows down the stretch until Sexton took over. Irving finished Wednesday’s game with 37 points on 15 of 28 shooting (53.6%), but was outdone by Sexton who finished with 42 points on 16 of 29 shooting (55.2%). Their contrasting styles of play, along with the obvious parallels between the two, makes this such an intriguing matchup. Irving plays the game like an artist. Every dribble is a brush stroke in an elaborate painting. Sexton, on the other hand, plays like a man whose life depends on the outcome of the game. Every dribble for Sexton is an act for survival and every basket is forced in through sheer force of will. It was fun to watch both show their passion for basketball in completely different ways while ending up with nearly identical stats. Hopefully tonight provides us with as good of a duel as last game.