East Conf. Semi Preview (Cavs-Nets)
Cavs (2) vs. Nets (6):
- Cavs have the clear edge on the boards in the series. They were Top 5 in overall rebounding for the season, and are a very good off. board team--Big Z & Gooden both averaged 3 off. rpg in the reg. season, Varejao added 2.5 off rpg in less minutes. They absolutely pounded the Wiz on the glass--+12.5 rpg margin. Knew the Wiz were a bad board team, but getting pounded that bad was not expected.
- Mike Brown turned the Cavs into one of the best defensive teams in the NBA this year. They defend the 3pt line very well, and this could be a factor since the Nets have improved their 3pt shooting this year & shot 38.7% vs Raps. Nets are pretty solid defensive team themselves. Did a great job in the 1st round, and they function well in zone looks which should be common vs. the Cavs.
- Expect the Nets to sag around the painted area the same way they did vs. Toronto. No-brainer to choke off Bron driving lanes to force him & Hughes into jumpshots. They might dare Pavlovic to beat them and he was only 2/9 from 3pt in the 1st round & the Cavs only shot 31% from 3pt vs. the Wiz. Gibson, Donyell, & Damon Jones might be forced to step up in the series. But we'll just see if Coach Brown will even play these guys that much.
- The underrated key to this series could be Pavlovic on both ends of the floor. I imagine the Nets' first order of business on offense is to attack Pavlovic at will with either Jefferson or Vince. Will be interesting to see who Sasha guards. You might see a fair amount of zone from the Cavs. On the other end, Sasha has to rekindle his stroke because the Nets are gonna sag and also double/trap Bron to force other Cavs to beat them. Probably see Jefferson getting the majority of minutes checking Bron with Vince & even Kidd getting some minutes on Bron.
- The Nets are going to need a repeat performance of the Big 3's 1st round. Obviously, Vince needs to be aggressive off the bounce like he was for the final 4 games of the Raps' series. Expect the same thing from Jefferson, and RJ needs to try to draw fouls on Bron if he's matched on him. The Nets will need Boci Nachbar to continue his strong play in this series, especially his shooting so to create spacing for the Big 3 to operate.
- Honestly, just can't get a good read on this series. I really don't think I have a good grasp on how this series will play out. The Cavs are the better rebounding & defensive team, but then again they can go thru some serious dry spells on offense. I could see them really struggling if the Nets seal up the painted area & the Cavs' shooters can't find the mark. But then again the Nets have had their fair share of lulls on offense thru-out the season, though they did a solid job of execution in the Raps' series. The Cavs have a scoring advantage with their frontline, and maybe that might be the push over the cliff they need.
CAVS IN 7
M. Haubs' pick:
I'm taking Cavs in 7 as well. Nets are playing well, and homecourt may make the difference in this one for Cleveland.