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Final Score: Cleveland Cavaliers drop play-in game to Brooklyn Nets 115-108

It’s do-or-die Friday night in Cleveland.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers are finally, officially on the brink. They’ll have to play for the eight seed at home after losing to the Brooklyn Nets 115–108 in Tuesday’s night playoff game.

The Nets are not your typical seven seed, and they wasted precious little time demonstrating that. They dominated the opening frame, doubling up the Cavs in both shooting percentage (70% for Brooklyn, 35% for the Cavs) and, well, points on the way to a 40–20 lead — oh and that was with Kevin Durant attempting just three shots!

To the Cavs’ credit, they somehow managed to stay in the game. They gradually closed the gap during the second and third quarters, and eventually cut Brooklyn’s lead to six midway through the fourth quarter. But each time they drew to within striking distance, Kevin Durant (25 points, 11 assists) stiff-armed them with back-breaking jumpers.

There are many things that went wrong for the Cavaliers. They got virtually nothing from Caris LeVert (12 points on 4-of-12 shooting) and Lauri Markkanen (13 points on 5-of-14 shooting), and literally nothing from Isaac Okoro, who went scoreless in just over 13 minutes before getting yanked in favor of Rajon Rondo. They also got outscored 24–10 in the points-off-turnovers department—devastating against a pair of assassins like Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Speaking of Kyrie Irving...whew. Irbing got cooking early with 11 points in the first quarter and kept it going for most of the night on his way to 34 points and 12 assists. He didn’t miss a shot until almost the fourth quarter! Durant and Irving weren’t the entire reason for the Nets’ win, but there was an obvious chasm between a team with two superstars vs. one without.

It wasn’t all bad news, though. The most promising outcome: Cleveland’s young stars played like young stars. Darius Garland (34 points) caught fire late and took control of the game to keep the Cavs alive, and Evan Mobley, though he dealt with foul trouble most of the night, put up 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting while playing his usual brand of defense. And Kevin Love (14 points, 13 rebounds) showed up to complement the young stars’ vigod with a nice dose of veteran know-how. If there’s anything to hold onto moving forward, it’s that.

Up next: The Cavs will regroup on Friday and face the winner of tomorrow night’s game between the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets.