Plugging defensive holes:
On the season the Cavaliers rank 28th defensively. Post All-Star break the Cavs rank 18th defensively, but this ranking isn’t a sign the team has made huge strides. This because the players who’ve helped raise the rank were on the court because so many offensive players were injured. Factor in, since the trade the Cavaliers have held just three teams under 107 points and those teams (Memphis Grizzlies/Detroit Pistons/Phoenix Suns) are all headed for the lottery.
Considering six of the post trade 16 games are lottery bound and only four ranked in the top four offensively also affects the defensive ranking.
Dive a little deeper into the stats and more warning signs arise. Since the trade, opposing teams shoot 45.5 percent from the field which ranks 17th in the Association. Cleveland also allows opponents to shoot 37.2 percent from deep (ranks 17th) and is higher than their pre trade percent. As for opponent assists they allow 25.5 per game (rank 24th) and the 20th most opponent points (111.1) which again is more than they allowed pretrade.
Combine all these factors and what it points to is the Cavaliers have issues stopping transition, perimeter and paint scoring. In essence they can try to plug one hole and another will spring a leak. Even if the Cavs can focus on one area smart teams will simply attack them from their other weak areas.
Extra Motivation for Nets:
This is the last year Brooklyn Nets fans will have to throw things at the TV screen as they watch another of their draft picks sending a quality prospect to another team. And, while this wasn’t Koby Altman or the Cavaliers fault Brooklyn’s pick will head to Cleveland it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
In fact, for the Nets it should provide extra motivation to beat them this afternoon. A win might not matter in the grand scheme of things, but it sure will feel good if that one win makes the difference in Cleveland losing out on a player they desire in the draft.
Since the teams played less than a month ago, not much changes in terms of how the Nets should approach this game. Coach Kenny Atkinson has to decide if he will force LeBron to be a volume shooter or a distributor. Furthermore, should he Nets employ their guards to drive at the Cavs questionable interior defense or fire away from the perimeter where the Cavaliers don’t display prowess either.
If Cleveland employ Nance at the center Jarrett Allen may be able to serve up some quality minutes. On the other hand, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will have his hands full trying his best to stop LeBron James.
Date: Sunday, March 25, 2018, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
TV: YES Network
History: Brooklyn and Cleveland have met 175 times in the regular season with the Cavaliers holding a commanding 100-75 series lead. Last season the Cavaliers swept the Brooklyn Nets. This game marks the teams final meeting this season with Cleveland holding the 2-1 edge.
Odds: Cleveland is an 6.5 point favorite, and the over/under is 228 points.