On the second night of a back to back, the Brooklyn Nets are set to host the Cleveland Cavaliers following a 97-81 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats last night.
Last night’s victory over the Bobcats was P.J. Carlesimo’s first game as the interim head coach for the Nets and he’ll look to begin his tenure with the first set of back to back wins for the Nets since Dec. 12 and Dec. 14 when they beat the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons, respectively.
Here’s your pregame primer…
Nets Injury Report
Last night against the Bobcats, Kris Humphries (mild abdominal strain) and Toko Shengelia (flu) both sat out. Deron Williams continues to nurse a bruised wrist and Gerald Wallace played through a hyperextended left knee last night and was obviously limited. In a back to back, injuries flare up but fortunately, the Nets starters got some rest last night, sitting out the entire fourth quarter. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond tonight.
Kyrie Irving’s Return
Thus far this season, Kyrie Irving—a kid that grew up playing basketball in Northern New Jersey and the New York City area—has enjoyed his two highest scoring outputs in New York City. Back on Nov. 13, he scored 34 points in a spirited battle against Deron Williams and against the New York Knicks on Dec. 15, Irving turned in a career high 41 points. Tonight at Barclays Center, Irving will play his third game in New York City this season and though the first two efforts resulted in losses, he’s the type of player that’s capable of single-handedly dominating a basketball game.
The last time the Cavaliers visited Barclays Center back on Nov. 13, Anderson Varejao grabbed 18 total rebounds—11 of which were on the offensive glass. He scored a career high 35 points and consistently outhustled the Nets bigs.
Varejao has missed the Cavs past five contests with a right knee contusion and isn’t expected to return until Jan. 4. However, in his place, the Cavs have started rookie center Tyler Zeller. Zeller isn’t a strong rebounder—averaging just 7.8 rebounds per game since Varejao went down. However, the Nets will need to be attentive on the glass and make sure to limit the Cavs second chance opportunities.
Energy and Effort
According to Carlesimo and the Nets players, they pretty much stuck with the game plan during last night’s victory over the Bobcats. However, the team looked to play with a different energy and effort than we’d seen for the past few weeks. The Nets shot 8-for-12 over the first eight minutes of the game and opened up a 23-9 lead. From there, the game was smooth sailing. If you jump out on an interior team early in the game, you can take the first away from them and that’s exactly what the Nets did last night.
That’s what they should aim to do tonight, as well.
The action tips off on the YES Network at 7:30 P.M. Follow @SNYNets on Twitter for live, in-game tweets and check back here after the game for the Rapid Recap.