Nets-Cavs Play-in Game: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving Set For Scoring Assault, But Can Cleveland Keep Up?

Of all of the Eastern Conference groups he may have picked for the opening video games, the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers have been most likely on the backside of the record. The Nets have been anticipated to contend for the No. 1 seed because the preseason title favourite, however an harm to Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s vaccination standing and an surprising commerce lawsuit from James Harden landed them the No. 7 seed.

The Cavs, however, had low expectations after ending with the fourth-worst file within the NBA final season. They’ve been an excellent story, led by standout performances from Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and rookie Evan Mobley, together with an amazing defensive turnaround caused by head coach JB Bickerstaff.

The groups took reverse paths to get right here, however they’ll meet on Tuesday with the winner incomes the correct to face the No.2-seeded Boston Celtics within the first spherical and the loser going into an elimination recreation on Friday in opposition to the winner. of Wednesday’s matchup between the Charlotte Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks.

Here’s a glance in the beginning time, TV information and odds, together with three issues to know for the matchup.

(7) Brooklyn Nets vs. (8) Cleveland Cavaliers

  • When: Tuesday April 12 | 7 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Where: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, New York
  • TELEVISION: TNT | Live broadcast: TNT
  • Possibilities: BKN-420; LC +320; O/U 228.5 (by way of Caesars Sportsbook)

featured recreation | Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

1. KD and Kyrie all-out assault

If the Brooklyn Nets need to one way or the other reside as much as their standing as preseason favorites regardless of the accidents, trades and drama related to this season, it’s going to come down to 2 gamers: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Both are able to scoring 50-plus factors in any given recreation, and may have to take action given the dearth of offensive firepower on the remainder of Brooklyn’s roster. Durant averaged almost 30 factors this season and Irving averaged 27.4. The subsequent highest scoring common on the staff was Seth Curry’s 14.7, and he solely performed 19 video games with the staff.

So sure, KD and Kyrie must rating, however they will even be tasked with facilitating when Cleveland sends them double groups and traps. Durant is greater than succesful as a passer, as evidenced by his career-high 16 assists in a win over the Indiana Pacers on the ultimate day of the common season. When Durant posted 9 or extra assists this season, the Nets have been 9-2, in comparison with a 7-6 file when he had 35 or extra factors. That’s a sign of how necessary it’s for Durant to get his teammates concerned Tuesday in opposition to the Cavs, and never essentially look to select up the scoring slack early.

When Durant and Irving have performed collectively this season, they’ve been just about unstoppable offensively. After the James Harden commerce, the Nets scored an unimaginable 123.6 factors per 100 possessions with Durant and Irving on the ground. That’s arduous for any protection to include, not to mention one which might be its main rim protector is missing as a result of Jarrett Allen’s finger harm.

Nets coach Steve Nash has by no means been afraid to play his stars for large minutes, so that you higher consider Durant and Irving might be on the ground for many of Tuesday’s matchup. That means each ought to put up unimaginable numbers with the No. 7 seed on the road. And with regards to closing possessions, Durant is among the finest key gamers within the league who has made it to the postseason stage repeatedly.

2. Garland, LeVert must be cool

Before Allen’s harm, the Cavs received largely due to their protection, which on the time ranked fourth within the NBA. However, within the 18 video games for the reason that huge man went down, Cleveland had the Twenty second-ranked protection within the league and a 7-11 file to go together with it. All of that is to say that to beat Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets on Tuesday, they will have to attain … loads.

The excellent news is that the Nets are an excellent staff to attempt to rating on, twentieth within the league within the common season with a 112.3 defensive ranking. For all of the credit score Durant deserves offensively, he is additionally essential to Brooklyn’s protection, whose ranking is 4 factors worse when Durant sits down. If Nash chooses to provide his star participant even the slightest break, it is important the Cavs take benefit.

That will begin with Garland, a standout All-Star this season who averaged 21.7 factors and eight.6 assists in 46/38/89 capturing splits. The Cavs’ offensive ranking improves by greater than 10 factors per 100 possessions when Garland is on the ground, so he’ll must be in high type to maintain up with the Nets’ scoring assault.

However, when Garland has gone to the bench, issues have fallen off a cliff. He most likely will not be sitting round a lot on Tuesday, however when he does, he’ll depend on midseason acquisition Caris LeVert to hold the offensive torch. So far, that hasn’t occurred this season, because the Cavs have managed simply 103.4 factors per 100 possessions in 173 minutes with LeVert on the ground and Garland on the bench. The Cavs must be very cautious to not lose management of the sport when Garland rests.

However, with Garland and LeVert on the ground collectively, the Cavs have been dynamic offensively, placing up 118.4 factors per 100 possessions. That is likely to be sufficient to maintain up with the Nets, however each Garland and LeVert must be on their recreation.

3. Evan Mobley, X-Factor

It’s arduous to foretell how rookies will fare within the postseason, however the whole lot we have seen from Mobley, a favourite for Rookie of the Year, signifies he will not be shrinking in the intervening time. Assuming Durant, Irving, Garland and LeVert deliver their A-game, Mobley could possibly be the deciding consider Tuesday’s matchup.

With Allen out, Mobley might be tasked with defending the rim in opposition to KD and Kyrie, who’re two competent finishers, whereas additionally conserving the likes of Andre Drummond and Nicolas Claxton off the offensive glass. That’s no straightforward process, after which the Cavs will probably want him to attain as properly to maintain tempo with Brooklyn’s assault. The Cavs have been 4-1 this season when Mobley scored 24 or extra factors, and so they may have that type of effort from him in the event that they need to win Tuesday.

Prediction

There needs to be loads of scores on this one with Allen unable to dress, so get your popcorn prepared. The Cavs have been too poor defensively in current weeks to decelerate the Durant-Irving offensive barrage, so the Nets will finally stroll away for the win. That stated, he needs to be near the stretch, so the Cavs ought to cowl the comparatively giant stretch. Picks: Nets ML, Cavs +8.5

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