New Jersey Nets (4-46) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (41-11)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
7:00 PM EST
The Nets come into this game 42 games under .500 while the Cavaliers are 30 games over .500. I can’t recall the last time I saw a game with 2 teams so distantly separated by wins and losses. I guess this is how the Nets are going to make their best pitch to lure LeBron this summer. “Come join a team with a core of players who won 8 games last season. Hey look, we even have John Wall!!!!” Good luck with that. As for tonight’s game, there was some optimism yesterday that Delonte West would be making his return tonight, but the Cavaliers’ head honchos don’t feel the need to bring him back this early. Windhorst says they may not even bring him back against Orlando on Thursday and may instead let him rest through the All-Star Break. We’ll see what happens.
Projected Starting Lineups
New Jersey Nets:
-G Devin Harris (15.8 ppg, 6.3 apg, 1.4 spg, 15.65 PER)
-G Courtney Lee (11.3 ppg, 1.8 apg, .298 3P%, 11.92 PER)
-F Jarvis Hayes (7.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.8 apg, 7.62 PER)
-F Yi Jianlian (13.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 12.78 PER)
-C Brook Lopez (19.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 21.15 PER)
Key Reserves: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Kris Humphries, Trenton Hassell, Terrence Williams, Keyon Dooling, Josh Boone
Injuries: Devin Harris (questionable), Yi Jianlian (questionable), Bobby Simmons (out), Chris Douglas-Roberts (questionable)
-G Daniel Gibson (6.8 ppg, 1.3 apg, 0.5 spg, 11.45 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (7.1 ppg, 1.6 apg, .452 3P%, 9.10 PER)
-F LeBron James (29.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 8.2 apg, 31.58 PER)
-F JJ Hickson (7.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 13.95 PER)
-C Shaquille O’Neal (11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 18.11 PER)
Key Reserves: Anderson Varejao, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams, Danny Green
Injuries: Mo Williams (out), Delonte West (day-to-day), Leon Powe (out)
Team Efficiency Stats
New Jersey Nets:
-Off (89.9 ppg, 38.9 rpg, .423 FG%, 18.0 apg, 14.9 TOpg, Eff-95.4, Rank-30)
-Def (101.5 ppg, 44.1 rpg, .481 FG%, Eff-107.7, Rank-26)
-Off (101.3 ppg, 42.4 rpg, .486 FG%, 21.5 apg, 14.8 TOpg, Eff-108.4, Rank-5)
-Def (93.9 ppg, 38.1 rpg, .432 FG%, Eff-99.8, Rank-3)
- Wed, Mar 3 at New Jersey
This is the part where most people will tell you that New Jersey isn’t really as bad as their 4-46 record indicates. Well, I’m going to tell you that they really are. You can’t just discount chemistry and say that they have better talent than a 4 win team. The team is what the team is. We’ve seen first hand in Cleveland the impact of chemistry on a basketball team. The Cavaliers have it and New Jersey does not. The Nets have no offensive identity or philosophy and they are almost equally atrocious on defense.
Now, having said all that, as you can see above, the Nets have played the Cavaliers close in both previous matchups. This is because the Cavaliers have a bad habit of overlooking the Nets and playing down to them. The crowd in the Q will likely be more subdued than usual, and it’s going to be up to the players to get themselves up for this game.
When the Nets have the ball, they are a team that shoots an awful lot of jumpers considering they are a team that can’t make jumpers. Despite having just an eFG% of .381 on jumpers, they take a higher than average percentage of shots from both 10-15 feet and 16-23 feet. They also happen to be a pretty bad offensive rebounding team, and that’s a bad combination when you’re missing a lot of shots. It creates a lot of long rebound opportunities for their opponents and as a result they are highly susceptible to fast break points going the other way. The Cavs have been pushing the ball a little more with LeBron running the point lately anyway, so look for the Cavaliers to find a big advantage here.
Defensively the Nets also give up a lot of points in the paint, something the Cavaliers excel at, so I see a major advantage here as well. The Cavaliers can look to run when it’s there, and otherwise try to pound the Nets inside.
The Nets’ best weapon by far is Brook Lopez who is a very impressive young center who has many All-Star appearances in his future. He has absolutely killed the Cavaliers both times these teams have played and was a big part of why these games have been close. Shaq and Varejao must step up their game defensively against Lopez or else all he really needs is one player to get hot from outside and the Nets will have the 1-2 punch they need to keep this game close.
For the Cavaliers, JJ Hickson has not played well against the Nets at all. But being matched up against Yi Jianlian should give JJ some chances to create easy baskets if he can continue to show his strong cuts and active mentality he’s shown the last few games. Jianlian has the length to both JJ a little bit, but JJ has the edge in athleticism. I look to this to be a key matchup in this game. We know the Nets have nobody who can really stop LeBron, and Shaq/Z/Andy/Lopez can all cancel each other out to an extent, which leaves Hickson as the guy who needs to step up in this game. Of course, having Daniel Gibson continue to rain in 3s won’t hurt either.
From The Outside Looking In
Birds Of A Feather
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Thursday, February 11, 2010
8:00 PM EST
Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers