Another starting lineup change did the trick for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were 119-112 winners over the Chicago Bulls last night. With Derrick Rose still out with an ankle injury and Jose Calderon ineffective in his one start, LeBron James stepped in at point guard and delivered 34 points and 13 assists. Kevin Love added a strong double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds.
The Brooklyn Nets were involved in yet another shootout, but came up short in a 125-121 road defeat to the Orlando Magic. D’Angelo Russell paced the Nets with 29 points, although he went just 9-of-24 from the field. DeMarre Carroll continued his strong start with his third straight 17-point game.
Three Keys to the Game
LeBron James’ workload – Point LeBron was amazing as expected against an over-matched Bulls team. But after going 37 minutes against the Bulls last night, it remains to be seen how much playing time Tyronn Lue plans to give James on the second night of a back-to-back, if he plays him at all. If he does see limited time, it’ll be up to Dwyane Wade to take charge of the offense of his brand new team.
Motivation – The Cavs lost by 23 points at home to the Orlando Magic in their first back-to-back of the season, as hardly anyone besides LeBron and Love showed up. And after winning last night, the Cavs might just put the foot off the gas once again. The Nets, on the other hand, should be up for this one after losing last night to the Magic.
Brooklyn’s firepower – The Nets have given up a lot of points against teams who don’t necessarily have the greatest offensive weapons in the Magic and the Pacers, but they’re 2-2 because they’ve managed to create enough offense of their own. It remains to be seen if that strategy can work against a Cavs team that can score in bunches because of all their 3-point shooters.
Matchup to Watch
Kevin Love vs. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – There will likely be a good deal of small-ball played in this game, which could see Love and Hollis-Jefferson matched up at center. Hollis-Jefferson has had a strong start to the season, but he’ll have his hands full keeping Love off the glass.
Cavaliers Projected Starting Lineup
PG – LeBron James | SG – J. R. Smith | SF – Jae Crowder | PF – Kevin Love | C – Tristan Thompson
Nets Projected Starting Lineup
PG – D’Angelo Russell | SG – Caris LeVert | SF – DeMarre Carroll | PF – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | C – Timofey Mozgov
Love has had an okay start to the season with 17 points and ten rebounds. But he could be set for his best game yet against the Nets, who have had a hard time guarding big men from the perimeter. They have allowed two Magic players, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, to score 40 points in their two meetings this season, which is definitely a promising sign for a 3-point shooting big like Love.
The uncertainty with James’ playing time makes it hard to trust the Cavs covering as seven-point road favorites. And even if he does play, Cleveland may not try at all on defense and just go for a shootout. That totally feasible scenario makes the total going 227 quite a palatable bet.
The Cavs eke out a 125-121 road win in another high-scoring Nets game.
The game is being broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio, the YES Network, and NBA League Pass. Tip-off at Barclays Center is at 7:30pm ET.
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