The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips as Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers kick off the play-in tournament chaos.
09:00 (AEST), Wed 13th Apr @ Barclays Center, Brooklyn
History: Played 203: Cavaliers 115 V Nets 88
Last meeting: April 8, 2022: Nets 118 d Cavaliers 107 at Barclays Center
Final Thoughts: The Eastern Conference play-in tournament gets underway with the high-profile Brooklyn Nets hosting the plucky Cleveland Cavaliers with the winner clinching the seventh seed.
The 44-38 Nets are third favourites in NBA Championship betting despite their lowly standing. Undermanned for much of the season, the star-studded outfit has belatedly gained some traction with 12 wins from their last 17 games. The Nets finished the season on a four-game winning streak.
Brooklyn accounted for the Pacers 134-126 on Monday (AEST) to secure home-court advantage for this game. Kyrie Irving top-scored, Kevin Durant (20 pts, 10 reb, 16 ast) had a triple-double and Andre Drummond (20 pts, 13 reb) was a big presence.
Ben Simmons’ Nets debut remains up the air, with a potential First Round return from injury touted.
The Cavaliers also finished with a 44-38 record but have faded since the All-Star break, winning only nine of their last 26 games. They put away a second-string Bucks line-up 133-115 on Monday (AEST) to end a three-game slide, with Kevin Love (32 pts, 10 pts) starring off the bench. Larui Markkanen (23 pts, 7 reb) and Evan Mobley (18 pts, 10 reb) also warmed up for the play-in tournament in impressive fashion.
The Cavs’ starting line-up is rounded out by All-Star reserve Darius Garland and Caris LeVert, while veteran Rajon Rondo adds experience and spark off the bench. Jarrett Allen (finger) is not expected back – a big blow.
Nets grasp psychological edge
The Nets won three of the teams’ four regular-season games. The New Yorkers prevailed 109-99 at home and 117-112 in Cleveland in November, before the Cavs pegged one back 114-107 at home in January.
The rivals met on Saturday (AEST), with Kevin Durant leading the Nets to a 118-107 win in Brooklyn. Bruce Brown (18 pts, 10 reb, 8 ast, 4 blk) and Kyrie Irving (18 pts, 6 reb, 8 ast) also made strong contributions. Darius Garland (31 pts) top-scored for the Cavaliers.
The Nets are just 20-21 at home this season (and an NBA-worst 9-31-1 ATS) but have won six of their last eight at Barclays Center. New York’s vaccine mandate change, allowing Kyrie Irving to play in home games, has helped the turnaround. The Cavaliers are 19-22 on the road (20-19-2 ATS), winning just one of their last seven away.
In an unsteady campaign, the Nets are as settled as at any point this season and look poised to go up a gear or two. The Cavaliers have returned to relevance this season but have struggled lately and are set to compete for the eighth seed with the winner of the Hawks-Hornets game.
Best Bet: Handicap – Nets -8.5 @ $1.90
Same Game Multi: Margin – Nets 11+; Total – Over 228.5; Darius Garland Points – Over 25.5; Kevin Durant Points – Over 31.5 @ $13.35