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What to watch for in Cleveland Cavaliers vs Brooklyn Nets

The Cavs will look for their fourth-straight as they meet the Nets in Paris.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers (21-15) will meet the struggling Brooklyn Nets (16-21) in Paris as part of the NBA’s Global Games series. Cleveland is looking for its fourth win in a row, while Brooklyn has lost seven of their last ten.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets

Where: AccorHotels Arena - Paris, France

When: 2 p.m. EST

TV: Bally Sports Ohio, NBATV, YES

Spread:

Expected Cavs Starting Lineup: Donovan Mitchell, Isaac Okoro, Max Strus, Dean Wade, Jarrett Allen

Cavs Injury Report: Darius Garland (jaw, OUT) Evan Mobley (knee, OUT), Ty Jerome (ankle, OUT)

Expected Nets Starting Lineup:

Nets Injury Report: Ben Simmons (lower back, OUT), Day’Ron Sharpe (knee, OUT), Keon Johnson (G League, OUT), Noah Clowney (G League, OUT), Dariq Whitehead (G League, OUT), Jalen Wilson (G League, OUT)

What to Watch for: Jarrett Allen, All-Star

Despite having injuries to two key pieces in Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, the Cavs have won seven of their last ten games - with an opportunity to keep running up their record during this period of a softer schedule. The engine behind their play has been Jarrett Allen, who continues a torrid stretch of play since Mobley went down with an injury. In those games, dating back to December 16th, Allen is averaging 19.4 points, 13.1 rebounds, and four assists per game. When they played together, Allen averaged 12.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. That is quite a difference.

What to make of that disparity is a topic for another time (albeit sooner rather than later). But the takeaway right now is that Allen has been the driving force for the Cavaliers not only as a defender (where he continues to excel) but as an efficient offensive weapon as well. He’s scored 20+ points four times in the 11 games without Mobley, compared to just twice in the 20 games playing alongside him. Allen has a double-double in seven straight games as well, a testament to his improved work on the glass. The Nets are the second-best rebounding team in the league (and the best offensive rebounding team), so Allen continuing to be active on the glass will be important.

Allen was also practicing for France by stuffing their prodigal countryman at the rim:

What to Watch for: Sam Merrill, certified flamethrower

While Allen has been integral to the Cavs’ recent success, Sam Merrill has flown under the radar comparatively. The 27-year-old is shooting 43.7% from deep on the season and has emerged as the best bench shooter as of right now. Merrill has double-digit points in four-straight games and has hit at least three three-pointers in all of those contests. While his staying power in the rotation is in question once Garland returns from injury, right now his gravitational pull as a shooter is Kyle Korver-esque. The Cavs certainly need it.

One Stat to Watch for: Getting the Strus loose

In the season-opener for the Cavs, Max Strus scored 27 points and drilled seven three-pointers en route to a win. It has been tough sledding shooting-wise for Strus as of late, and it would be very beneficial to get him back into form. Strus has the best efficiency differential on the roster per Cleaning the Glass and, while that doesn't mean he is the most important player, it does mean that he is integral to success. In his last ten games, Strus is shooting 38.5% from the floor and 33.3% from three-point territory. The explosion against Washington (Strus went 9/13 from the floor and 6/8 from deep) withstanding, Strus is a little cold shooting-wise. What better time to right the ship than against the team he started the season hot against?