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

For many, with their trio Kyrie Irving —James Harden— Kevin Durantthe Nets were the natural favorites for the 2022 NBA title. In addition to Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status preventing him from playing in the meantime, the “trade deadline” saw James Harden leave for the Sixers and injuries weighed down the second half of the season. Kevin Durant’s season match.

So much so that Brooklyn now has to go through the “play-in” box to even secure his qualification into the playoffs. All but obvious for this team, certainly carried by a fiery tandem (Irving / Durant), but lacking collective continuity and still waiting to be able to count on Ben Simmons, the alleged third thief of the New York “Big Three” , arrived from Philadelphia.

Also authors of a surprising season, but this time in the positive sense of the word, the Cavaliers want to take advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses to steal 7th 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 harm them in this poster of all dangers, to the point of having to play a second playoff game against the winner of the game between the two. Hawks and the Hornets.

Because that’s the whole point of this encounter between Nets and Cavaliers: not to start a “win or go home” game, at the risk of having to go on vacation earlier than planned…

NET PRESENTATION

Holders: K. Irving, Se. Curry, B. Brown, K. Durant, A. Drummond.
The substitutions: G. Dragic, P. Mills, D. Duke Jr, C. Thomas, K. Edwards, D. Sharpe, B. Griffin, L. Aldridge, N. Claxton.
The absent: B. Simmons, J. Harris.
the coach: S.Nash.

Other than surprise, Steve Nash should draw a lot from the bodies of his incumbents. It must be said that the bank of Nets has so far brought no satisfaction, between the lack of rhythm of Goran Dragic, coming out of the health protocol, the crisis of confidence of Patty Mills, the irregularity of the rookies Cameron Thomas, David Duke Jr, Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe or the slow performances of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, even Nic Claxton.

Surrounded by complementary and high-quality “role players”, such as Seth Curry, Bruce Brown and Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will therefore be the main weapons for Brooklyn, who still hopes to find (or rather discover) Ben Simmons. in the first round of the play-offs† Both against the Heat and against the Celtics…

The strong point

The Irving/Durant duo† Hard to dream of a better tandem to tackle such a cleaver competition. Indeed, throughout their respective careers, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have shown that they are arguably better than ever when their backs are against the wall. Averaging no less than 57.3 points overall this season, the point guard and All-Star winger are the league’s most prolific scoring pair and it will take such prowess on their part to take the Nets away. to get. play-in” and then go as far as possible into the playoffs (and with no home advantage), as was envisioned at the start of the campaign.

The weak point

Defense† When the Nets’ offense with Kyrie Irving is running at full blast (118.9 points out of 100 possessions), the same cannot be said of their defense (113.8 points out of 100 possessions). This is also the biggest weakness of the New York franchise, besides the lack of collective experience. Because in the absence of Ben Simmons, Steve Nash can’t really rely on defensive specialists, between Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, Patty Mills, Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge. And don’t expect Ben Simmons, with limited playing time and returning after a long months absence from the courts, to completely transform Brooklyn in this game sector…

PRESENTATION OF THE RIDERS

Holders: D. Garland, C. LeVert, I. Okoro, L. Markkanen, E. Mobley.
The substitutions: R. Rondo, B. Goodwin, D. Windler, C. Osman, L. Stevens, K. Love, E. Davis, M. Brown.
the absent : J. Allen, C. Sexton, D. Wade.
the coach: JB Bickerstaff.

The tension didn’t last long: no, Jarrett Allen won’t be able to hold his place with the Cavaliers, facing his old formation. Touched on the finger, the All-Star pivot is not yet 100% and without him, Caris LeVert will start at the back, alongside Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro to the wing, Lauri Markkanen in the racket and Evan Mobley closer to the circle.

On the bench, Kevin Love will carry the heavy burden of penalizing the Nets’ “second unit” and making up for the absence of Jarrett Allen as best he can. On some sequences, Rajon Rondo and Lamar Stevens also need to be authorized by their coach, in the same way as Cedi Osman or Dylan Windler in the outside positions.

The strong point

collective continuity† Against this Nets team looking for collective-level balance, the Cavaliers have a real card to play at this level. Around Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, who are likely to indulge in “pick-and-roll” against the New York defense, the men of JB Bickerstaff already offer many guarantees as a team and it is no coincidence that they were able to overcome the many injuries with which they had to deal. The Cleveland players, united around their coach, never let go and this resilience can make all the difference at this stage of the season.

The weak point

The dynamics† Authors of a stellar first leg of the season (35 wins – 23 losses), the Cavaliers then lost the thread after All-Star Weekend. About to go from 3rd to 8th place in the Eastern Conference in less than two months. A worst-water campaign for the Ohio players, weighed down by injuries (and Jarrett Allen’s in particular) and unable to rectify the situation enough to avoid a Top 6 drop. during the “play-in” could seriously affect the morale of this group, long promised to find the playoffs, but today in danger.

THE KEY TO THE MATCH

The experience† Unlike Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Patty Mills, Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond, almost all Cavaliers players are inexperienced. If the roadside arrivals of Rajon Rondo and Caris LeVert to support Kevin Love and Ed Davis as “big brothers” have aged the workforce, the Ohio franchise remains one of the youngest in the league and nine of its members have never made it to the playoffs until now. Among them: Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen and Isaac Okoro. In other words, four Cleveland starters…

NORMAL SEASON

Brooklyn 3-1

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

JUDGMENT

BROOKLYNto find Boston in the first round, in a remake of the 2021 playoffs, landing in the Milwaukee and Chicago table area. Leaving Cleveland to play for survival against Atlanta or Charlotte, in the second round of the “play-in” …

O’CLOCK

At 01:00 this Tuesday evening.

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