That’s because there will be no Brook Lopez for Jason Kidd’s Nets as there was when the two teams opened the season against each other. But thankfully for the Nets, there will be no Kyrie Irving on the floor either. Irving will not play in Brooklyn due to a bruised left knee he sustained Tuesday night against the Indiana Pacers.
That makes this a game the Nets must win.
At 11-21, any game where Brooklyn has a talent advantage evolves into a game of supreme urgency, especially in a pathetic Eastern Conference where finishing five or 10 games under .500 could still result in a postseason berth.
With Irving unable to even make the trip to New York, the Nets most definitely have the upper hand on paper. The Cavs are also suffering through an 11-21 season, but they figure to have an even more difficult night without their best player who is budding into one of the top points guards across the entire league.
The only three players the Nets’ coaching staff needs to put great emphasis on stopping are Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Jarrett Jack who can all be game changers in a multitude of ways.
If the Nets accomplish this and play with the type of effort that allowed them to stun the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, they should come away with their 12th victory of the season.