New Jersey Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Pregame Open Thread

New Jersey Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Pregame Open Thread

Eastern Conference bliss, huh? Tonight, the 22-47 New Jersey Nets take on the 17-56 Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s a combined 103 losses and 27.5% winning percentage. Needless to say, this game will be highly entertaining, provided you’re a masochist that hates everything about basketball.

The Nets are still without two starters – point guard Deron Williams (wrist) and small forward Damion James (foot), while the Cavs are even more snakebitten – Anderson Varejao (ankle surgery) and Antawn Jamison (left pinky surgery) are both out for the season, Semih Erden (multiple injuries) will not play, Baron Davis (back) is listed as doubtful, and on top of all that, LeBron James will not be in a Cleveland uniform tonight either (lack of supporting cast, ingrown South Beach). So, this one will be a tough viewing, but take solace: I’ll be watching too.

Here are a few things to look out for in tonight’s game.

Jump on them early on both sides of the floor. Cleveland is a sad, sad team right now. As mean as this sounds, jump on them early. Ram the ball down their throats. Don’t take possessions off. Don’t give them hang around and give them a chance to win this game. The Nets have a tendency to not close out, and this is one team that the Nets absolutely should not lose to (as they have once this season already). This means attacking defensively, too. If the Nets force turnovers, the Cavs are statistically the worst team in the league at defending in transition (1.26 points per possession against). Create this victory, New Jersey.

Do (almost) anything on offense, just run plays. The Cavs are weak literally against every set – they’re not strong at defending the pick & roll, they don’t get out to spot-up shooters well, and they’re terrible in transition (as mentioned). Strangely, the one thing they’re good at is defending in the post – they’re 9th in the NBA there. But, as we’re all aware by now, Brook handles the post against Cleveland pretty well. So even that’s something the Nets should exploit. Just don’t bog it down with unnecessary turnovers and isolations.

Anthony Morrow, please go nuts. I mentioned in passing a few times that I’d love to see the Nets let Anthony Morrow shoot 20 3’s in a game, just to see what happens. What’s the worst that could happen? 7-20, maybe? That’s 21 points on 20 shots. That’s still pretty good.

On a related note, the Cavs allow 42% shooting from beyond the arc by their opponents. That’s last in the league by a very wide margin. For comparison’s sake, the difference between the Cavs and the 2nd-worst team (Utah, .379) is bigger than the difference between the 2nd and 28th-worst team (Los Angeles, .339). That’s out of 30 teams. They’re not just bad, they’re historically bad. They may be the worst perimeter defense in NBA history. Anthony Morrow has the second-best three point shooting percentage in NBA history. Run screens for Morrow all day, please. This is not rocket science. Tonight’s the night, New Jersey. Let him rain.

For more info & analysis on the Cleveland Cavaliers, check out the incomparable John Krolik & his team on Cavs: The Blog.