Nets-Cavaliers: Open Thread & Things To Watch

Posted on: December 29th, 2012 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

Grade the Game at any time!

The 15-14 Brooklyn Nets look to make it two in a row, and they couldn't have picked a better second half of a back-to-back, as the 7-24 Cleveland Cavaliers touch down in Brooklyn.

Projected Starters:
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller
Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez

Advanced Statistics
Cleveland Cavaliers: 97.4 offensive rating (29th), 105.8 defensive rating (27th), 94.40 possessions per game (14th)
Brooklyn Nets: 103.1 offensive rating (11th), 103.6 defensive rating (21st), 90.14 possessions per game (29th)

Three Things to Watch

 
1) The evolving offense. The Nets didn't change too much of the offensive sets in P.J. Carlesimo's interim debut, but the way they executed those sets looked night and day from the previous 13 games. Whether that's P.J.'s influence, the Bobcats' porous defense, a healthy Lopez, an engaged D-Will, that Avery's gone, or some combination of those and other factors, it was absolutely true Friday night against Charlotte. The Nets are facing the league's 27th-ranked defense without their defensive anchor tonight. They should carve Cleveland worse than LeBron did.

2) Containing Kyrie. Yes, you have to worry about all five men on the floor because everyone who's in the game is a professional basketball player and blah blah blah. Suffice it to say that Cleveland's supporting cast & bench eerily resembles the New Jersey Nets bench last year, in the sense that it is terrible.

With that said, one of Cleveland's few offensive strengths is getting good spot-up looks, and that all begins with Irving -- whether he's the one spotting up (he's shooting 41% from downtown) or he's the one creating open looks. The Nets have to open this one up early, and then continue to pound the Cavaliers when Irving is out of the game.

3) MarShon's MiNutes. In the past two games, fan favorite, electric scorer, and "there's no D in MarShon Brooks" defender MarShon Brooks has seen an uptick in his minutes. He hasn't had an excellent game off the bench yet, but he's looked more comfortable in the flow of the offense and admitted that he had issues with former coach Avery Johnson. His increased comfortability, coupled with his talent advantage over C.J. Miles and Boobie Gibson, could result in a breakout bench game.