D’Angelo Russell came into tonight’s game with great career numbers against the Cavs. In his first 8 career games against the Cavs he averaged 25.0 ppg, with 30+ points in his last two games before tonight. Russell was fourth in the league in his first 8 games against the Cavs only behind LeBron 26.3 ppg, Damian Lillard 26.9 ppg, Andrew Wiggins 27.9 ppg. Tonight, Russell continued his stellar play against the Cavs shooting 9-20 from the field while hitting 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, and finishing with 25 total points in 32 minutes of play.
Spencer Dinwiddie came to play tonight and had his biggest performance since coming back from his injury, scoring a team high 28 points on 10-21 from the field in his 30 minutes of play. The Nets got a great contribution from the bench tonight as well. LeVert had some big shots down the stretch to help seal this win.
With no Tristan Thompson tonight for the Cavs, it was almost known that Jarrett Allen would have a big impact in this game as a down low presence (which he does almost every game). Larry Nance was no match for Allen early, with Allen throwing down two big time early dunks to set the tone for this Nets team tonight. Although the Cavs did play the Nets tough all night, they just didn’t have enough talent to hold off the playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets. Allen finished the night early after fouling out late in the 4th quarter. He finished with another double-double 15 points and 11 rebounds in a very solid performance as well as adding 3 assists. Rodonos Kurucs got his second straight start for the Nets with Treveon Graham missing his second straight game due to a back soreness, and Kurucs did his thing. He didn’t shoot the ball well tonight but he made an impact off the score sheet, disrupting a lot of plays and playing a solid defensive game all night.
The Nets get back over the .500 mark with this win (34-33) and stay tied for the 6th seed with the Pistons, who crushed the Timberwolves tonight, 131-114. The other two spots that are being fought for by 3 other teams: the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic. Two of those teams faced off tonight in Charlotte and the Heat got the better of the Hornets down the stretch, winning that game on the road 91-84, knocking the Hornets out of the playoff picture if the season was to end today.
The Cavs, who are playing for nothing but trying to add more lottery balls to get that first overall pick, played very gritty tonight and didn’t lay down by any means. They just wouldn’t go away with the Nets having their largest lead of the night up to 16 and yet the Cavs continued to battle back taking the lead to start the second half. However, the Nets prevailed in the 4th quarter by going on a 14-0 run, putting the game officially out of reach for the young tough Cleveland Cavaliers. Cavs have played surprisingly well since coming out of the All-Star break, with a 4-2 record. Cleveland is now 5-5 in their last 10 games and 7-7 in their last 14.
Next up, the Nets head to Atlanta for another young, well coached team, that is out of playoff contention but playing for pride on their home floor. The Nets next 3 games (including tonight) are against opponents with winning percentages of 36%, so these are must win games with their extremely difficult west coast trip coming up, which startsnext Wednesday night in OKC. The Nets last 13 games of the season, every opponent’s winning percentage is over 60%, so the Nets will have their hands full heading down the stretch to make that final playoff push and find themselves in the postseason for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.