NBA Game Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets

Mar 21, 2023

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Game: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Brooklyn Nets

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Odds: Cavaliers -3, Net +3

Total: 218

Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets ended up playing each other in the play-in round to earn a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Tonight, the two teams meet at the Barclays Center with the Nets (39-32) attempting to stay in the top six of the Eastern Conference to avoid a play-in game. The Cavaliers (45-28) are in fourth place in the East, which means home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cavs and Nets will play back-to-back games in Brooklyn tonight and Thursday. Cleveland can strengthen its three-game lead over fifth-place New York. The Nets could put some distance between them and the seventh-place Miami Heat. Currently, the Nets are one game ahead of the Heat.

Since losing three straight games between Feb. 15 and Feb. 24, the Cavaliers have won seven of their last ten games to hold onto fourth place. In nine of its last 11 games, Cleveland has scored at least 110 points. That includes Friday’s 117-94 thrashing of the visiting Washington Wizards. The Cavaliers managed to shoot 55.2 percent from the field overall, which is the 12th time this season they have shot at least 55 percent. They hit 15 of their 19 three-point attempts.

Darius Garland led his team to victory on Friday with 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting and he also had nine assists. Garland only shot 1-of-5 from beyond the arc and he is just 6-for-26 from three-point range in his last four games. Despite making zero of six three-point attempts, Donovan Mitchell scored 20 points. Mitchell has three 40-point games in his last eight despite shooting 1-of-19 from beyond the arc in his last three games.

As part of a 12-game winning streak, Brooklyn shot 57.3 percent in a 125-117 victory over Cleveland on December 26 to move into second place in the East. The Nets are currently two games behind the New York Knicks who are in fifth place. Brooklyn will attempt to avoid another four-game losing streak with a win tonight.

The last time Brooklyn lost four straight games was from February 24 to March 1, when the team suffered three losses by double digits and surrendered an average of 130 points per contest. The Nets ended their losing streak with five wins in six games. Since then, they have averaged 101.7 points a game and lost to Oklahoma City, Sacramento, and Denver.

Brooklyn let the game slip away in the first half of its last two games against Sacramento and Denver in contrast to the first game of the skid when the Nets blew a 10-point halftime lead in a 121-107 loss. The Nets were down by 12 after the first quarter and 15 at halftime in their 108-102 loss to the Nuggets on Sunday, and it took a late surge to keep the score respectable.

For the 12th time in their last 15 games, the Nets were outrebounded and they have allowed 52.5 percent shooting. Nic Claxton added 19, and Mikal Bridges scored 23 points against Denver, making it his fifth straight game with at least 20 points. Cameron Johnson finished with 14 points. He hit just 1-of-6 three-point attempts and is shooting 33.6 percent from behind the arc.

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