GameDay Preview: Cavs at Nets
The Cavaliers (7-24) head to Brooklyn tonight to take on the Nets (15-14) at the Barclays Center. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Wine and Gold will look to get back on the winning track as they had their two-game winning streak snapped in last night's 102-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite the loss, the backcourt tandem of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters combined to tally 46 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. The duo comes into tonight's game as one of the highest scoring backcourts in the NBA as Irving averages 23.2 and Waiters 14.6. points per game.
For Brooklyn, they will go for their second straight victory after trouncing the Charlotte Bobcats 97-81 last night. The victory was their first game under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Carlesimo took over to Avery Johnson whom was fired earlier in the week.
Johnson led the Nets to an 11-4 start, winning Eastern Conference coach of the month honors for November, but Brooklyn fell to 3-10 in December under Johnson and had been blown out of their last two games leading up to Friday night.
Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic
Cavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - Dion Waiters, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller
Nets: PG - Deron Williams, SG - Keith Bogans, SF - Joe Johnson
PF - Kris Humphries, C - Brook Lopez
Injuries: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao, (Right Knee Contusion, Out), Daniel Gibson, (Concussion, Out)
(Nets) - Deron Williams (Bruised Right Wrist, Questionable), Kris Humphries (Sore Abdominal Muscle), Questionable)
*Subject to change
The Cavaliers lead the all-time series against the Nets, 87-68, posting a 55-23 mark in games played at home with the Nets holding a 45-32 advantage while playing in their own arena.
The Wine and Gold are 11-6 over their last 17 matchups with the Nets, which includes a 6-3 mark as the road team. In their last meeting in mid-November, Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao each had big games despite a Cavs loss. Varejao tallied a career-high 35 points to go along with 18 rebounds while Irving added 34 points of his own.
Key to the Game/Key Matchup
Key to the Game
With injuries to Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao, two important rotation guys, the Cavaliers will have to have reserves like C.J. Miles, Jeremy Pargo and Luke Walton to step up in Gibson and Varejao's absence.
A team's bench becomes even more vital following back-to-back games, and as mentioned, both the Cavs and Nets come into tonight's contest having played the night before.
In their last matchup, the Nets bench outscored the Cavs bench 28-6 in a 13-point loss. With that being said, the Wine and Gold's bench production will be a key to tonight's game.
Kyrie Irving vs. Deron Williams
Assuming Deron Williams plays, the point guard battle should be another entertaining matchup as Irving squares off against Williams.
In their last matchup, Irving held his own against Brooklyn's All-Star point guard, tallying 34 points and eight assists, but Williams and the Nets came away with the victory as Williams bucketed 26 points to go along with 10 assists.
On the season, Irving is averaging 23.2 points and 5.5 assists while Williams has put up season marks of 16.6 points and 7.8 assists per game.
Alonzo Gee vs. Joe Johnson
It is safe to assume that the Cavaliers' best perimeter defender, Alonzo Gee, will draw the assignment of having to guard the Nets most dangerous perimeter scorer, Joe Johnson.
Gee will aim to contain Johnson, who poured in 25 points in the two teams' last meeting. On the season, Johnson is the Nets second leading scorer averaging 16.8 points per game.
Gee has guarded everyone from Chris Paul to Kevin Durant and if he can hold Johnson to at or near his season average, then it will give the Wine and Gold a big advantage.
Where to Catch the Action