Play preview in | Brooklyn (7) – Cleveland (8)

For many, with their trio Kyrie Irving – James Harden – Kevin Durant, the Nets were the natural candidates for the 2022 NBA title. Except that in the meantime, Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status prevented him from playing, and the trade deadline saw James Harden leave in favor of the Sixers and injuries That plagued Kevin Durant in the second half of the season.

So much so, that Brooklyn must now pass through the “play-in” box to ensure it qualified for the playoffs. All but the obvious for this team, it certainly carries a fiery tandem (Irving/Durant), but lacks collective continuity and is still waiting to be able to count on Ben Simmons, the presumed third thief in New York’s “Big Three” arriving from Philadelphia.

Also the authors of a surprising season, but in the positive sense of the term this time around, the Cavaliers intend to take advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses to steal seventh place from them and thus challenge the Celtics in the first round. It remains to be seen whether the second half of the Cleveland players’ failed campaign will hurt them in this poster of all-risks, to the point of having to play a second playoff against the winner of the duel between the Hawks and the Hawks. Hornets.

Because that’s the whole point of this meeting between the Nets and Cavaliers: not to embark on the “win-or-go game”, while risking going on vacation sooner than planned…

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Swatches: K. Irving, C.; Carey, b. Brown, K.; Durant, A.; Drummond.
Alternatives: Dragek, B. Mills, Duke Jr., C. Thomas, K. Edwards, D. Sharpe, B. Griffin, L. Aldridge, N. Claxton.
Absence: B Simmons, J. Harris.
the coach: S Nash.

Barring surprise, Steve Nash has to paint a lot on the bodies of its occupants. It has to be said that the Nets bench has yet to satisfy, between the lack of rhythm of Goran Dragic, who is out of health protocol, Patty Mills’ confidence crunch, and the erratic rookie Cameron Thomas and David Duke. Junior, Kessler Edwards, Daeron Sharp, or the slow-motion performances of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, even Nick Claxton.

Surrounded by complementary, high-quality “role players”, such as Seth Curry, Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they would thus be the main weapons available to Brooklyn, who still hopes to find (or rather discover) Ben Simmons during the first round of the playoffs. Both anti-heat and anti-Celtex…

strong point

Irving/Durant duo. It’s hard to dream of a better tandem to handle a cleaver match like this. Throughout their careers, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have already proven that they excel better than ever when their backs are against the wall. With no less than 57.3 points in total this season, the base and all-star winger make up the league’s most productive pair in scoring and it would take such finesse on their part for the Nets to get away with it. of “playing in” and then going as far as possible in the playoffs (and without the house advantage), as was imagined at the start of the campaign.

Weakness

Defense. If the Nets attack runs at full speed with Kyrie Irving (118.9 points on 100 possessions), the same cannot be said for their defense (113.8 points on 100 possessions). This is also the main weakness of the New York franchise, beyond its lack of collective experience. Because in the absence of Ben Simmons, Steve Nash can’t really count on the defensive specialists, between Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, Patti Mills, Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge. And don’t expect Ben Simmons, with limited playing time and a return after so many months away from the pitch, to completely change Brooklyn, in this gaming sector…

Introducing the riders

Swatches: Garland, C. Levert, I. Okoro, L. Markkanen, E. Mobley.
Alternatives: Rondo, b. Goodwin, Dr.; Wendler, C. Usman, L. Stevens, K. Love, E. Davies, M. Brown.
absent : J. Allen, C. Sexton, D. Wade.
the coach: J.B. Bickerstaff.

The suspense didn’t last long: No, Garrett Allen wouldn’t be able to hold his place with the Cavaliers, facing his old squad. Finger touched, the All-Star pivot not yet at 100% and without him, it’s Caris LeVert who will start from the back, along with Darius Garland, turning Isaac Okoro into the wing, Lauri Markkanen on the bat and Evan Mobley closer to the circle.

On the bench, Kevin Love will bear the heavy burden of punishing the “second unit” of the networks and making up as much as possible for the absence of Garrett Allen. In some sequences, Rajon Rondo and Lamar Stevens must also be empowered by their coach, just like Cedi Osman or Dylan Windler in outside positions.

strong point

collective continuity. Against this Nets looking for balance on a team level, the Cavaliers have a real card to play at that level. About Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, who are likely to “pick and roll” against the New York defense, JB Bickerstaff’s men already offer plenty of guarantees as a team and it’s no coincidence that they’ve been able to overcome their many injuries. United around their coach, Cleveland players are never one to let go and that flexibility can make all the difference at this point in the season.

Weakness

dynamic. The authors of the brilliant first part of the season (35 wins – 23 losses), the Cavaliers lost the thread after the weekend’s All-Star Game. To the point of moving from 3rd to 8th place in the Eastern Conference in less than two months. The end of the campaign is in the blood sausage of the Ohio players, saddled with injuries (particularly that of Garrett Allen) and unable to rectify the situation enough to avoid falling off the top 6. Suffice it to say that a disqualification during a “play-in” could seriously affect the morale of this group, I long ago promised to find the playoffs but today is in danger.

match key

Experience. Unlike Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Patti Mills, Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond, nearly all Cavaliers players are inexperienced. If entrants along the way of Rajon Rondo and Caris LeVert, to support Kevin Love and Ed Davis as “big brothers”, have aged somewhat, the Ohio franchise remains one of the league’s youngest players and nine of its members have never made it. Qualifiers so far. Among them: Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Laurie Markkanen and Isaac Okoro. In other words, four entrees from Cleveland…

regular class

Brooklyn 3-1

November 17: Brooklyn – Cleveland (109-99)
November 22: Cleveland – Brooklyn (112-117)
January 17: Cleveland – Brooklyn (114-107)
April 8: Brooklyn – Cleveland (118-107)

judgment

Brooklynto find Boston in the first round, in a remake from the 2021 playoffs, thus slipping into the backgammon portion of Milwaukee and Chicago. Leaving Cleveland playing for survival against Atlanta or Charlotte, in the second round of “Play In”…

courier

It’s 01:00 p.m. Tuesday.

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