G5 Down 2 PGs, Brooklyn Nets Hosts New Cavaliers PG LeBron James
A back-to-back game for the Nets who will not play their two best PGs in Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell. LeBron James scored 36 points the last time he visited the Barclays Center last season.
One day after the defensively-challenged Nets gave up another 41 points career-high game by a Magic player , they will host the defending Eastern Conference champ Cavaliers. Two Orlando Magic players (Nikola Vujevic and Aaron Gordon) have earned two career-high points in the span of a week. Both hit 11-13 from three-point lines and averages 13 rebounds per game so it is safe to say that the Nets have serious problems defending shooting bigs.
Reeling from the loss of Jeremy Lin as the veteran PG in Game 1, the Nets might rest D’Angelo Russell who is listed as doubtful with sprained right knee. Meanwhile, LeBron James has started at point guard resulting in a victory for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
Russell Injury Concern
Russell has had injury history on both knees from his Laker days so the Nets will certainly take a precaution to give him extended rest. Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Whitehead the available PGs who will need to fill in the void. There is no doubt that Nets will continue to seek veteran PG after failing to recruit Jameer Nelson who signed with the Pelicans.
Last season in Los Angeles – his second year in the league – Russell dealt with issues in both knees. He missed 11 games between Nov. 22 and Dec. 9 with left knee soreness, needing a platelet-rich plasma injection. He returned Dec. 11 against the Knicks, shooting 1-of-8 from the floor and 13-of-40 in his next four. Then Russell sat out three games from Jan. 22 to 26 with an injured right knee.
The Nets have allowed 122.5 points per game in 4 games, which is the 2nd worst in the NBA only behind Phoenix Suns who allowed 125.2 points per game.
Another problem area for the Nets is fouling. The Nets are allowing opponents to shoot 31 free throws per game after allowing 40 trips to the line Tuesday. They are ranked the 4th worst in the NBA Opponent Percent of Points from Free Throws by allowing 21.6%. These are easy points for the opponents that they cannot afford to give up.
James totaled 36 points in his last visit to Brooklyn on Jan. 6. Five Nets who have seen minutes this season (Trevor Booker, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) faced James in his last visit, which ended with a 116-108 Cleveland win.
The Nets are 2-2 with the wins coming at home and the losses occurring on the road. Brooklyn is the first team since 1985-86 to score at least 115 points in its first four games.
Brooklyn won its first home games over the Magic and the Hawks but blew multiple 12-point leads Tuesday in a 125-121 loss at Orlando.
Point guard D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 29 points but contributed only one assist to the Nets’ total of 21.
“I think it’s a team issue,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We got to move the ball better. It’s too much one-on-one. We got to move it and have better player movement, but I think that was part of the problem at the end of the game.”
The Nets shot 41.7 percent from the floor but made only 32 percent in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn also missed four 3-point attempts in the final 36 seconds.
“We were close,” Russell said. “We kind of gave it to them.”
Another problem area for the Nets is fouling. The Nets are allowing opponents to shoot 31 free throws per game after allowing 40 trips to the line Tuesday.
“We had opportunities,” Atkinson said after his team allowed Orlando’s Aaron Gordon to score 41 points. “We missed a lot of open looks. But the big story of the game was putting them on the free-throw line 40 times. You can’t do that.”