The Nets travel to Cleveland to play against the LeBron-less (and winless) Cavs for the first time in a while. Brooklyn is 1-2, the Cavs are 0-3. That’s tough, and the Nets are going to try their best to hold off that mini-celebration of a first win for at least one more game. With three days off following their back-to-backs they should be rested, healthier than before, and ready to play. Let’s get into it.
Where To Follow The Game
YES will have this one at 7pm ET. So will WFAN. Big news is that the game will be Richard Jefferson’s first in the YES Network booth … the first of 21, we hear.
So, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is officially back after recovering from his adductor strain and then the birth of his child. Shabazz Napier will also make his season debut. These two are legitimately important for the Nets this season and will ease their way back into NBA action.
Rodions Kurucs is day-to-day and unlikely to play in this one. Treveon Graham (torn left hamstring) who might end up missing a couple of months, and DeMarre Carroll who is recovering from his surgery are both out. Like really out.
The Cavs, for the most part, are healthy save for a J.R. Smith maybe-injury. He didn’t play in their loss to the Hawks Sunday night, but then tweeted that it wasn’t his choice. Maybe we see him; maybe we don’t, but J.R. doesn’t seem too happy in Cleveland at the moment.
Meanwhile, Tyronn Lue has decided to re-insert his two oldest players, Kyle Korver and Channing Frye, into the rotation. Smith, Korver and Frye had been relegated to the bench as the Cavaliers wanted to go young. Not working.
As I’m sure basically everyone in America knows at this point, LeBron James is no longer on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Again. After winning one championship in four tries, he bolted for L.A. to presumably play with a better team and build his media brand and act and hang out with celebrities and do all the things the most famous athlete on earth gets to do. That leaves the Cavs with a roster of pieces, but no real centerpiece.
Kevin Love has shouldered most of the load so far, scoring more than 20 points a game and pulling down 14.3 rebounds and adding four assists. He’s putting up Kevin Love-In-Minnesota numbers now that LeBron is gone and there’s few other good, consistent options on offense. Granted, he’s shooting 30 percent from the field and 26 percent from three, so not great. They’re 0-3 for a reason.
The Cavs are giving up 126.7 points per game on defense so far this year, third worst in the league, and the Nets are going to look to attack from all angles. There might not be a single good defensive player on the whole roster. Guards, wings, big men. No one. The only player on the entire team with a DBPM that isn’t negative is Sam Dekker at 0.2 and has only played 40 minutes so far.
Every single Net should be foaming at the mouth going into this one. This is the kind of game where like seven guys could end up with double-digit points. Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert might feast, but I’m looking at D’Angelo Russell to have a breakout game. He hasn’t been terrible (12/6/4) but he could use a big scoring output to boost his confidence (and his stats).
Player To Watch
Cedi Osman, the 23-year-old wing of Turkish and Macedonian heritage, is breaking out in a big way so far. After scoring 3.9 points in 11 minutes per game last season, he’s up to 17 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists while shooting 45 percent from the field and 53 percent from deep. Do those percentages hold up all season? No. Might Osman actually be good? For sure. He’s got the tools and the space with which to work now that the Cavs need scoring from somewhere. It won’t take too much to shut down his production at least a little bit, but he’s going to require some attention.
Bonus Player to Watch: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in his season debut. I don’t know how much Kenny plans on pushing him quite yet, but dating back to last season the Nets are 3-14 when he’s out and that is uhhhh not great, Bob. He really completes this young core of guys and is important on both ends of the floor. He’s a consistent corner three away from being maybe the most valuable guy on the team. Glad to have him back.
From The Vault
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