2) Holding back Varejao.
The Nets have made their mark in 2014 by forcing turnovers, hoping to limit first shot attempts. It’s been a trade-off: their smaller, long lineup isn’t a rebounding tour de force, and they’ve lost the rebounding battle in 18 of their last 24 games. They’ll probably have the same issue tonight, if only because of Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao.
Varejao’s taken a backseat in Cleveland’s offense this season. After averaging a career-high 14.1 points per game last season, he’s only scoring 8.6 points on 7.3 shots per game this season. Even considering his sharp decrease in playing time, he’s still shooting and scoring far less. But he gets much of his offense on the glass, averaging an even ten rebounds (three offensive) per game. As a team, Cleveland ranks ninth and tenth in the NBA in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, respectively.
Kevin Garnett won’t be there to check Varejao tonight, leaving the task to the emergent Mason Plumlee and the enigmatic Andray Blatche. Blatche has had some success staying in the paint and using his physicality, but often gets lost on the defensive end trying to cover his and other’s mistakes. Those two may have to sacrifice their effort on the offensive end just to limit Varejao.