Nets vs. Cavaliers Recap: Complete Team Effort Fuels Brooklyn to a Clutch Home Win

Considering that the Brooklyn Nets are already locked into the play-in tournament, each of these final two games are crucial. What made Friday night’s showdown even more important, was their opponent. The Cleveland Cavaliers held the seventh seed heading into the game, but the Nets had an opportunity to steal that spot with a win. Led by Kevin Durant’s 36 points, the whole team contributed to an impressive victory at home.

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Offense was hard to come by for both teams at the start. Neither squad found a rhythm on either end of the floor, leading to sloppy play and missed opportunities. However, the Nets turned a switch towards the final few minutes of the first quarter, going on an 11–0 run to take a 12 point lead. Durant, in particular, was lethal during this stretch. His playmaking has elevated since returning from injury, and that was fully on display against Cleveland. In just 12 minutes, Durant scored 16 points on 6–7 from the field, powering Brooklyn to a 34–19 first quarter lead.

Throughout the second period, Brooklyn’s offense faltered. The team’s shooting percentages dropped dramatically, allowing Cleveland to chip away. After leading by as many as 17, the Cavaliers cut the lead to five with a few minutes left in the half. A late push from Durant and Patty Mills gave Brooklyn a bit of a cushion, and they led 62–54 heading into halftime.

The third quarter told a different story. Cleveland quickly erased a double digit lead, fueled by Darius Garland’s relentless offensive onslaught. As Brooklyn stumbled offensively, the Cavaliers took advantage. Through five minutes of game action, Brooklyn failed to score a single point. Due to this, the Cavaliers went into the final 12 minutes with an 88–83 lead, dominating on both ends of the floor. The Nets were, quite simply, lifeless. 

In the fourth period, however, Brooklyn regained a bit of their swagger. Both Mills and Durant delivered on clutch three pointers, and the Nets went back on top, 95–93. 

As the quarter continued, Brooklyn grabbed hold of momentum, and did not let go. Bruce Brown was sensational throughout the night, and produced multiple big-time plays down the stretch. Despite Cleveland’s best efforts, the Nets suffocated every attempt of a comeback. Andre Drummond dominated the perimeter in the fourth, which allowed Brooklyn to pull away, never looking back.

Brooklyn now regains the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference after Friday night’s victory over Cleveland. The final score: Brooklyn, 118; Cleveland, 107.

Role Players and Their Importance

Obviously, a key to winning in the NBA is the level that role players perform at. If a team cannot produce outside of their superstars, it makes it difficult to find any sort of momentum. Thankfully, Brooklyn’s pieces have been outstanding as of late. Bruce Brown, specifically, has been unstoppable across the board. In Friday night’s victory, Brown recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, and four blocks. His energy sparks countless opportunities every night, and that was no different against Cleveland.

Since coming over from Philadelphia, Drummond and Seth Curry have been spectacular. Both have filled roles that Brooklyn desperately needed. Drummond is an exceptional big man, who rebounds at a high level and provides the team with second chance opportunities. Curry is a sharp-shooter, and can create plenty of open looks for himself, and others. With Joe Harris being ruled out for the season, Curry has given the Nets extremely valuable minutes—and will continue to do so as the playoffs approach.

Is Kyrie’s Inconsistency a Concern?

It is hard to ignore the shooting slump that Kyrie Irving has fallen into, since becoming a full time player. While his presence on the floor makes life much easier for the rest of the team, Irving has struggled to shoot the ball. Against Cleveland, he finished the night with only 18 points on 7–22 from the field. Not to mention, he only made one of seven three point attempts, which certainly is an area of concern.

If Brooklyn wants to be competitive during the playoffs, Irving has to snap out of his slumber. Brooklyn cannot rely on Durant to solely lead the team to victories every night. We all know what Irving is capable of, putting that on display multiple times this season. Hopefully, the all-star will get his act together before it is too late.

Final Thoughts

With only one game left to play, Brooklyn controls their own destiny. The team currently sits in the seventh seed–and with a win on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers, would lock themselves into that position for the rest of the year. Home court advantage is, no doubt, a massive factor heading into the play-in tournament. As long as the Nets stand their ground against the inconsistent Pacers, the seventh seed is theirs. Once again, the ball is in their court; and it is up to them to decide what they want to do with it.