Of all the teams in the Eastern Conference you could have opted for play-in games, with the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the bottom of the list. The Nets were expected to compete for the No. 1 spot as the Favorit in the Preseason title, but Kevin Durant’s injury, Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status and James Horton’s unexpected business demand drove them to No. 7.
The Cavs, on the other hand, had low expectations after finishing fourth in the NBA last season. They were a fantastic story, with the biggest defensive twists provoked by head coach JP Pickerstaff by the breakout performances of Darius Garland, Jared Allen and Rookie Evan Mobley.
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The teams went the opposite route to get here, but they will meet on Tuesday, the winner will get the right to face the 2nd ranked Boston Celtics in the first round and the loser will go to the elimination match on Friday with the winner. Wednesday’s match between the Charlotte Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks.
Here are three things you need to know about Play-in Matchup: Startup time, TV info, and conflicts.
(7) Brooklyn Nets vs. (8) Cleveland Cavaliers
- When: Tuesday, April 12 | 7 pm ET
- Where: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, New York
- TV: TNT | Live Stream: TNT
- Contradictions: PKN-420; CLE +320; O / U 228.5 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Special game | Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets
1. All-out attack by Gaddy and Kyrie
Despite the injuries, trades and dramas associated with this season, if the Brooklyn Nets are to somehow get to their favorite position it will come down to two players, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They are both capable of scoring over 50 in any given game, and Brooklyn’s remaining list will have to make up for the lack of attacking firefighters. Durant averages 30 points this season and Irving averages 27.4. The next highest scoring average on the team was Seth Curry’s 14.7, and he has only played 19 games with the team.
So yes, KD and Kyrie should score, but they will be in the task of facilitating when Cleveland sends doubles teams and traps on them. In the win against the Indiana pacers on the final day of the regular season, Durant is the most capable of a passer with 16 assists in his career. When Durant recorded nine assists or more this season, he had a Nets 9-2 record, compared to a 7-6 record of 35 points or more. Durant’s involvement with his team against the Caves on Tuesday is a sign of how important it is.
When Durant and Irving played together this season, they were an almost unstoppable attack. After James Horton traded, the Nets scored an incredible 123.6 points per 100 possessions, with Durant and Irving on the ground. It’s tough for any defense, let alone that Missing its primary margin protector Due to an injury to Jared Allen’s finger.
Nets coach Steve Nash has never been afraid to play his stars for the big minutes, so you can expect Durant and Irving to be on the court for most of Tuesday’s match. That is, they both need to line up the incredible numbers with the number 7 seed. Coming down to the final possessions, he is one of the best clutch artists in the Durant League, making a comeback on stage later in the season.
2. Garland, LeVert should be fine
Prior to Allen’s injury, the Caves won largely because of their defense, which at the time was fourth in the NBA. In 18 games since the big man went down, he has 22nd-ranked defense in the Cleveland League and is 7-11. To beat Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Nets on Tuesday, I have to say they have to score a lot.
The good news is that the Nets are the best team trying to score against 20th place in the league for the regular season with a defensive rating of 112.3. Of all the credits that Durant deserves to attack, he is the most important to Brooklyn’s defense, with its rating four points worse than when Durant was seated. If Nash gives his star player a little rest, the Caves need to take advantage.
It starts with Carland, an all-star breakout this season, averaging 21.7 points and 8.6 assists in 46/38/89 shooting splits. Caves ‘attack rating improves by more than 10 points per 100 possessions while Garland is on the ground, so he needs to be in better shape to keep pace with the Nets’ scoring attack.
When Garland went to the bench, things fell on a cliff. He won’t sit much on Tuesday, but when he does, it will be up to mid-season acquisition Carris Levert to carry the attacking torch. So far this season it has not happened because the Caves have amassed only 103.4 points per 100 possessions in 173 minutes through LeVert and Benz Garland on the court. The Cavs must be very careful not to lose control of the game while Garland rests.
While both Corland and Levert were on the court together, the Cavs scored 118.4 points for 100 possessions and occupied the action. It may be enough to keep the Nets going, but both Carland and Levert should be in their game.
3. Evan Mobley, X-Factor
It’s hard to predict how the Rookies will fare in the latter season, but all we’ve seen from Mobley, the favorite rookie of the year, is that he won’t shrink at this point. Assuming Durant, Irving, Garland and LeVert all came up with their own A-game, Mobley could be the swing factor in Tuesday’s matchup.
Once Allen is out, Mobley will take on the task of guarding the edge against Gaddy and Kyrie, who are both talented finishers, while keeping the likes of Andre Drummond and Nicholas Cloxton out of the attacking glass. It was not an easy task and then Caves would have to score to keep the pace of Brooklyn’s attack. The Caves were 4-1 when Mobley scored 24 or more points this season, and such an attempt may be needed from him if they are going to win on Tuesday.
There should be a lot of scores in it, allan not fit, so prepare your popcorn. The Caves have been very poor on defense in recent weeks in terms of minimizing Durant-Irving attacks, so the nets will eventually pull away for victory. That being said, it should be close to the bottom of the extension, so the Cavs should cover a relatively large spread. Choices: Nets ML, Caves +8.5