Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Cavaliers’
The 15-14 Brooklyn Nets welcome the 7-24 Cleveland Cavaliers to the Kings County this evening.
After starting 11-4 in November, the Nets dropped 10 of their first 13 games in December. Head coach Avery Johnson, who had been in the lead chair since the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, was fired on Thursday and replaced by interim veteran coach P.J. Carlesimo.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has stated that he has a lot of trust in Carlesimo but wouldn’t rule out a coaching search in the near future. The names Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy have been mentioned as possible candidates.
Brooklyn won last night at home against the woeful Charlotte Bobcats, 97-81. The Nets Big 3 Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez combined for 61 points to help deliver Charlotte their 17th straight defeat. Lopez led the team with 26 points, 11 boards and 3 blocks.
The Cavaliers also played last night, losing to the Atlanta Hawks in Cleveland,102-94. Second-year PG Kyrie Irving had 28 points, 5 dimes, 6 boards and 4 steals in the defeat. Coach Byron Scott’s best big man C Anderson Varejao sat out his fifth straight 48 with a bruised right knee and has been ruled out of tonight’s contest as well.
The Nets topped the Cavs 114-101 at home in their previous meeting on November 13th. NJ native and childhood Nets fan Irving put up 34 points ,and Varejao had a career-high 35 points and 18 boards in the defeat.
Tune in to the YES Network tonight at 7:30 PM ET to see if Brooklyn can pick up another W under new head coach Carlesimo before heading off on a difficult road trip with stops in San Antonio and OKC.
The 6-23 Cleveland Cavaliers posses a talented core of young players led by 2012 ROY PG Kyrie Irving. However, as is proven year in and year out, it takes time- and battle-tested veterans to win consistently in the NBA.
Ninth-year center Anderson Varejao is that type of veteran. He’s having a monster season so far, leading the league in rebounding to go along with 14.1 ppg. There’s been a smattering of chatter in the hoops world that several premiere squads are interested in acquiring the fiery Brazilian to bolster their rosters. And with the Cavs in deep rebuilding mode, they may decide to trade away their most productive player for a few younger guys and/or draft picks.
Whether this particular scenario plays out or not, Cleveland has a solid big man in 7’ rookie Tyler Zeller. For the past three games, Zeller has filled in at the starting 5-spot for Varejao, who’s nursing a knee injury. During this stint, Zeller has averaged 35 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 7 rpg, .66 bpg and .66 spg.
Zeller, who was taken 17th in last spring’s draft, is a fleet-footed workhorse who spent four seasons at UNC and competed in 117 pressure-packed contests for Roy Williams. Zeller was named 2012 ACC Player of the Year.
Zeller is tough as nails. In Cleveland’s fourth game he suffered a concussion and fractured his orbital bone. Instead of missing several weeks, Zeller sat out only four games. This injury set back Zeller’s early development. But in recent weeks coach Byron Scott’s confidence in his young center has grown, along with Zeller’s minutes and FG attempts.
So far in his freshman year, Zeller is averaging 23.7 mpg, 7.8 ppg and 5.2 rpg. He has season highs of 20 points, 10 boards (2X) and 3 blocks. Zeller’s role on the Cavs should continue to increase this season, regardless of Varejao’s status.
First-year point guard Kyrie Irving is proving to be the antidote to the acute atrophy of the Cavaliers’ title hopes following LeBron’s departure. Irving was named NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January. The former Dukie and first overall pick in the 2011 Draft leads his freshman class with 18.1 points per game and is shooting 51 percent from the floor.
After finishing at the bottom of the heap last season, Cleveland is currently ninth in the East and could challenge for one of the last playoff spots this go-around thanks to Irving’s leadership on the court. I spoke with Stepien Rules founder Brendan Bowers about the rising superstar before the Nets’ 99-96 road win over the Cavs last week.