The last time these two teams met, the Nets were able to hang with the Cavs for three quarters, until LeBron decided to take over, and then the Cavs pulled away. The Cavs were struggling a bit at that point (they were 2-2 in the games before the Nets one), and they could have taken the Nets lightly because they were missing so many guys. This time, things are different, the Cavs have one their last 6 and their last three wins were against the Lakers and two against the Hawks. They also might not be taking the Nets so lightly because they have everyone back and they are coming off a win.
Rafer Alston got a DNP-CD last time out, and you can expect the same as long as Dooling is playing well. If there ends up being a string of these, you might here some rumblings that Alston would want to be traded.
Jarvis Hayes is active for today’s game, so the Nets now have 14 players active, with only Eduardo Najera inactive. Pretty soon we aren’t going to have to update you guys on injuries, and that will make me happy…onto the matchups!
Devin Harris vs. Mo Williams
The Devin Harris of old showed up last time these two teams played. Devin put up 22 points and 3 assists, while getting to the line 8 times. Mo Williams didn’t score a ton (13 points), but he had 8 rebounds and 6 assists. A nice all-around night. Devin looked real good against the Knicks, getting into the middle of the court and passing off to guys in position to score. Hopefully he will be able to put back-to-back performances together.
Courtney Lee vs. Anthony Parker
Courtney Lee and Anthony Parker are pretty much the same player. They both had poor games last time out. Parker only had 5 points in 21 minutes, while Lee had 8 points in 42 minutes. They combined to go 1-7 from 3. Courtney Lee is attacking the basket much more than he has been, and I think that is because with everyone back, he can settle into his role now. He isn’t going to be expected to handle the scoring load. All he has to do is play hard defense and make a shot from time to time.
Chris Douglas-Roberts vs. LeBron James
CDR looked a little bothered by his ankle, but that is to be expected when you first come back from an ankle sprain. Those things stick with you for a long time after you get back, but he did play well against New York, and that is all that matters. LeBron James has been on a mission, and that 40+ performance on his birthday is proof. I will be happy if the Nets can keep him from dancing again.
Advantage: LeBron James
Yi vs. J.J. Hickson
Last time these two teams played, J.J. Hickson’s long arms and athletic ability really gave Josh Boone some trouble. This is why I am thrilled Yi is back. He is going to be able to pull Hickson away from the basket, and if his shots are falling, Hickson is going to have to close out on him. When that happens, Yi will be able to drive right past him. It’s fun talking about new Yi.
Brook Lopez vs. Shaq
Shaq had a big game last time out, part of the reason was that the Nets were playing zone and that got him some easy looks. The other part of it was Boone was covering him for a lot of the time in the first quarter, where Shaq got most of his easy buckets. That being said, Brook did struggle with him a bit down low. Brook had a great game on the offensive end though, 22 and 15, plus he got to the line 11 times. The Nets went to him down low early last game against the Knicks, and that could end up being a trend. Get Brook his touches early, make the defense react, then spread the ball around to everyone else.