Fresh on the heels of the biggest win of the season, the Nets are back in action tonight, set to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. The last time the Nets and Cavs met, things did not go so well for New Jersey. In fact, the only thing separating the Cavs offense from a three-point shootout were missing ball-racks and a moneyball.
But things are different for the Nets now and their blend of ingredients they call a roster are slowly starting to mesh themselves into an actual entree.
Joining us to talk about this battle of Eastern Conference cast-offs is Colin McGowan of Truehoop Network Cavs: The Blog.
Injury Notes: MarShon Brooks and Mehmet Okur are out for the Nets.
1. Who has the upper hand offensively, and why?
- Chris Hooker: I guess it just depends on who is healthy enough to play for New Jersey tonight. MarShon Brooks has been out for two straight games and is listed as a game-time decision again tonight. Kris Humphries and Mehmet Okur, the only legitamite big men for the Nets, are also listed as game-time decisions. If the starting 5 for New Jersey is Williams-Morrow-Stevenson-She. Williams-Petro, then there is only so much D-Will can do with the offense and a lack of a big presence will surely hurt the Nets offensively. As it stands, I'm giving the Cavs the upper hand here, but this is me expecting the worst for the Nets rotation injury-wise.
- Sandy Dover: I honestly believe that Cleveland has the upper hand offensively, largely because the Cavs have a developing world-beater chemistry. They're poised for the Playoffs if they can continue rolling, and Kyrie Irving may be All-Star-worthy already, amazingly. New Jersey is proving that the Deron Williams-Anthony Morrow-MarShon Brooks triad is building and making positive progress in the offense, as evidenced recently, but it's not where Cleveland is at, but definitely not far behind the Cavs either.
- Colin McGowan: The Cavs have a marginally more efficient offense due to Kyrie Irving's ability to score the ball (16.8 PPG with a 58.2 TS%), and their surplus of perimeter shooters (37% as a team from behind the arc). They also turn the ball over at an alarming rate (17.1 per game). Despite that horrifying number, and because Deron Williams isn't playing like Deron Williams, Kyrie and company get the nod.
- Chris Hooker: In this instance, it doesn't matter who the Nets put on the floor. This is still a team that is ranked dead last in the league in defensive rating and 27th in opposing points per game with 99.0. I'm not saying that the Cavs are offensive or defensive specialists, but the Nets certainly aren't either. On a plus, the Nets are coming off their best win of the season against a very deep 76ers team and it appears the team has a much more optimistic attitude in the locker room. However, three starters are either going to be out or playing hurt and the Nets are a weak enough team defensively. It's got to be the Cavs again.
- Sandy Dover: Defensively, it's still Cleveland. They have a better unit defensively. Alonzo Gee, Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison, and Anthony Parker can set a tone that is solid and honest against any team in the league. New Jersey, on the other hand, have Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks leading that charge from their starting five, and having major issues in that area of play.
2. Upperhand defensively, and why?
- Colin McGowan: Both the Nets and Cavs have performed poorly on the defensive end of the floor; their defenses are ranked 27th and 23rd in the league, respectively. The Cavs have the two best defensive players in this game in Anderson Varejao and Alonzo Gee, so I give them a slight edge.
3. And the winner is...
- Chris Hooker: The only real hope the Nets in this game is that they are coming off a big win and with a rejuvenated attitude. If the last meeting between these two teams was any indication, the Nets should be in for a tough game, especially with the injuries. I can't say "I love" this matchup tonight... That joke was terrible.
- Sandy Dover:The victor I predict to be is New Jersey, for this reason: Their confidence is sky-high right now from their win over the Philadelphia 76ers, and they may have found a groove; in particularly, I believe D-Will may have found a groove, but I don't predict a pretty win. The Cavs will fight them hard, but I think the Nets will overcome.
- Colin McGowan: Marshon Brooks likely won't participate in tonight's game due to an injured achilles. I don't know where the Nets get their offense from unless D-Will goes off. Cavs by seven in an ugly one.