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After splitting their recent four-game homestand, the banged-up Cavaliers finally get back on the road – taking on a Nets team in Brooklyn that’s also in a bad mood after a loss.
The Cavaliers are coming off a 98-82 loss on Monday night, splitting the two-game set with the Celtics, but losing prized rookie Evan Mobley in the process – adding to a list of walking wounded with a tough back-to-back on the slate.
In Monday’s loss, the shorthanded Cavs cut Boston’s nine-point loss to just one twice in the final three minutes, but couldn’t get over the hump. Playing without so many starters – including their leading scorer, Collin Sexton – a pair of reserves picked up the scoring slack.
Ricky Rubio, who moved into the starting lineup, led both teams with 28 points, going 9-for-20 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from deep, adding six boards and a pair of assists. Cedi came off the bench to tally a season-high 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-12 from beyond the arc.
Before being clobbered by Golden State at home on Tuesday, the Nets had been right on course – winning eight of their last nine before falling by 18 to Steph Curry and Co.
James Harden led Brooklyn with 24 points and Kevin Durant followed up with 19, but Curry was almost unstoppable, cashing in on nine triples for 37 points in the win.
J.B. Bickerstaff will again have to cobble together a starting lineup and rotation with several of his bigs – along with Sexton and Lamar Stevens – still on the shelf. They return home to face those same Warriors, who’ll roll into Cleveland on Thursday night with the league’s best mark at 12-2.
In both the regular and postseason, the Wine & Gold hold a pretty distinct advantage over the Nets – going 104-80 over them in the regular season and 10-5 in three postseason meetings, all while they were still in New Jersey.
Last year, the Wine & Gold won two dramatic meetings in Cleveland immediately after the Jarrett Allen/James Harden four-team blockbuster in mid-January – including a 147-135 double-overtime barnburner, with Collin Sexton exploding for 42 points. The Nets won the season finale by two TDs in Brooklyn.
Four different Cavaliers share the all-time single-game scoring mark with 42 points against the Nets. On their behalf, only one player has the all-time mark with 42 points: Richard Jefferson, who went 12-of-20 from the floor and 16-of-17 from the line in a two-point New Jersey win back in 2004.
LeBron led Cleveland with 23 points; Jeff McInnis followed up with 17.
Both players with deep connections to the other’s franchise will be out for Wednesday night’s contest. Kyrie Irving’s status has been well-documented while Jarrett Allen – who spent his first three-and-a-half seasons with Brooklyn after being taken with the 22nd overall pick in 2017 – didn’t make the trip while recovering from a non-COVID-related illness back in Cleveland.
But there are still some ties – including sharpshooting Nets swingman and all-around good guy, Joe Harris, who’s now in his sixth full season in Brooklyn after spending his first two with the Cavaliers after being taken with the 33rd overall pick in 2014 out of Virginia.
And of course, there’s Nets TV analyst and the aforementioned Richard Jefferson, who spent two eventful seasons with the Cavaliers, helping bring home the 2016 NBA Championship against the team Cleveland faces the following night.