Though Detroit/Chicago will rightly be in the spotlight, the 2/6 match up between the Cavs and Nets will be a good one to watch as well. During the regular season, Cleveland took two out of three from New Jersey, with the home team winning each. The last game was a bit of a blowout, Cleveland took it by 18. My gut tells me that the Nets, with the way they have been playing, will take this series, but the stats tell another tale. Cleveland’s box score from the three games against the Nets reads like a normal Cavs game; nothing New Jersey did took Cleveland off its game. The numbers for both teams are close, and no one Cleveland player did significantly better or worse than normal. New Jersey, however, should be concerned if the season box is anything to go by. While Carter has been great against the Cavs, netting 27 a game on 53% shooting (50% from 3), the other two members of the big three haven’t done nearly as well. Kidd got 9 points a game against them, though this isn’t that concerning considering his 9 boards, 8 assists, and the fact that he’s playing at another level anyway. More concerning is Jefferson who is shooting 35% en route to 12 points a game. Clearly, Hughes has been doing his job on Jefferson. New Jersey is also averaging 18 turnovers against a stingy Cav defense, a far cry from the 14 New Jersey gets on a regular basis. If Richardson cannot find a way to pick up his shooting, the Nets will have very few options for spreading out the defense, allowing the Cavs to pack it inside to keep Kidd and Carter out of the paint. This one will be close, but I’m going to go with Cleveland.
Cavaliers in 6