Mar. 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Brooklyn Nets forward Gerald Wallace reacts after getting a bloody nose in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Nets defeated the Suns 102-100. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview: Keeping Pace While Fending Off Atlanta

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So the Brooklyn Nets travel to Cleveland to face the 22-51 Cleveland Cavaliers. With the New York Knicks winning their last eight games, the Nets fell back to 5 1/2 games out of first place in the Atlantic Division, making that a pipe dream, unless the Knicks stumble. While this game means nothing for the Atlantic Division title, this does have some playoff seeding on the line. The Nets are currently 1 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta for the number four seed in the East. Not only would a loss bring them closer to falling a spot in the standings, but falling to fifth would mean that Brooklyn starts their playoff series on the road. Let’s look at the numbers the advanced numbers that will dictate the result in this game:

  • Efficiency Differential: Brooklyn: 12th  |  Cleveland: 25th
  • Effective Field Goal Differential: Brooklyn: 18th  |  Cleveland: 29th
  • Free Throw Rate Differential: Brooklyn: 3rd  |  Cleveland: 24th
  • Turnover Rate Differential: Brooklyn: 8th  |  Cleveland: 28th
  • Offensive Rebound Rate Differential Brooklyn: 3rd |  Cleveland: 13th

The two things that stand out in Brooklyn’s favor are the free throw and turnover rates. Not only does Brooklyn not turn the ball over much, but they also get a ton of chances at the line. The offensive rebounds rates are interesting, but Brooklyn is the more efficient team, and their differential says it all. If the Nets can slow down the pace, bog the game down, and force a ton of Cavalier turnovers, we might be on the verge of a blowout.

Starting Lineups

Deron Williams vs Kyrie Irving | Advantage: Williams

Deron Williams is a stout member of the “best point guards in the league” conversation. However, Kyrie Irving isn’t that far behind. Some have argued that Irving has surpassed Williams as a point guard. While I disagree, it’s impressive to see Irving be so efficient in his first two seasons as a pro. Deron should be able to out-duel Irving simply because Irving is still dealing with injuries, and with Williams’ recent play, I think he has the upper-hand in this contest.

Keith Bogans vs  Wayne Ellington | Advantage: Ellington

Ugh. No Joe Johnson, and probably no Dion Waiters either. Both Bogans and Ellington provide similar things (three-point shooting) with the only difference being Bogans’ defensive ability. While Bogans is the better defender, Ellington is the better shooter, and that should give him the lean here. Ellington should get the best of Bogans because of his shooting, but more importantly, his ability to shoot off screens, and in the corners. If Irving is playing, Ellington should find himself open in the corner at least five to ten times.

Gerald Wallace vs  Alonzo Gee | Advantage: Wallace

Another good opponent for Wallace. Gee is a good player, but not exactly an offensive savant. Not only could Wallace successfully defend Gee when he gets offensive opportunities, but he should also be able to help on double teams, block shots on the weakside, and even see time on Ellington. This could be one of those games where  Wallace’s racks up an irregular amount of blocks and steals if Gee isn’t scoring.

Reggie Evans vs Tristan Thompson |  Advantage: Thompson

Sorry Reggie, I’m going with Thompson here. Not only has Thompson shown a ton of improvement on the offensive end this season, he’s one of the few forwards that can match Evans in terms of energy and rebounding. While Evans will have his usual game (not too many points, a nice amount of rebounds, and some respectable defense), I think this could be a strong game for Thompson, who’s quietly turned into an offensive plus, after shooting under 45 percent from the field in his rookie season.

Brook Lopez vs Tyler Zeller |  Advantage: Lopez

Tyler Zeller isn’t terrible. He isn’t a starting center right now, but he isn’t a terrible player. However, he’s no Brook Lopez, who could be the receiving some All-NBA 3rd team votes this offseason. It could happen. Give me Brook Lopez to have a successful game, bot not dominate Zeller. Not only because he’s been in the league longer, and his game has been superb this season, but mainly because I have an insane bias against North Carolina talent.

Prediction: Nets 103, Cleveland 85

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