Nets lose 4th in a row; rally late and fall short to Cavs, 115-109
Published in Basketball
NEW YORK — No wonder the Cavaliers want the Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this season.
If that hypothetical series goes anything like the Nets’ 115-109 loss to the Cavaliers on Tuesday, Cleveland may as well own a first-round bye.
Reports emerged out of Cleveland on March 17 suggesting Cavaliers personnel prefer to face the reeling Nets in the first round of the playoffs over any other opponent. Hours later, the Cavs handed the Nets their fourth loss in a row in a game that never truly felt close.
Cavs All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland combined for 48 points, and Cleveland’s pair of seven-footers in Evan Mobley and former Net Jarrett Allen created an imposing presence against an undersized Brooklyn team that ranks second-to-last in the league in rebounding.
The Nets were quite simply outmatched. They led 30-23 entering the second quarter before the Cavaliers outscored them, 53-32, to take a 24-point lead in the third period.
And they succumbed to the same kind of star power they shipped out at the trade deadline when the Spida Mitchell show aired at The Clays Tuesday evening.
Mitchell finished with a game-high 31 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the field. In the second quarter, the Cavs star made threes on back-to-back possessions and pulled up for a third that was blocked from behind by his old Utah Jazz teammate Royce O’Neale.
At the top of the fourth, Mitchell attacked reserve forward Yuta Watanabe and put him on a poster with a vicious one-handed tomahawk that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Yet as favorable a matchup as the Cavs reportedly find the Nets, the reverse also rings true: The Nets’ long-shot road to a second-round playoff appearance — provided they qualify for postseason play and retain playoff status through the final 10 regular season games — sees its most efficient, and realistic route with early pit stops through Cleveland.
“If I had the choice of playing a team that just got put together three weeks ago versus playing Giannis [Antetokounmpo], or something of that nature...I mean, I think that’d be the most logical answer you could give,” starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said in a recent podcast appearance. “So, I don’t think it’s bulletin board material.”
©2023 New York Daily News. Visit at nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.