New Jersey Vs. Cleveland
TWO - Eastern Conference
New Jersey Nets Vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Although the sixth-seed New Jersey Nets finished the season at 41 and 41, they managed to beat the third-seed Toronto Raptors in four out of six in round one by winning some squeakers, which included a one-point 98- 97 series clincher. The Cleveland Cavaliers, the conference second-seed, handled the Washington Wizards, the seventh-seed, in four games. Meaning, the Cavaliers enter the next series a bit more rested than their opponents. They also possess the home court advantage.
The series looks like the Nets’ backcourt versus the Cavaliers’ frontcourt. The Net’s Vince Carter (25.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.8 APG), at shooting guard, is simply an all-in-one player. Against the Raptors, he had a 37-point evening. His foul shooting is at .802, while his defense is sound. Point guard Jason Kidd (13 PPG, 9.2 APG. 8.2 RPG) may have lost a step or two over the years, but he is still a major force on this team. Kidd’s a money player. In the series clincher he hammered in 18 points and fed 15 assists. He also grabbed eight rebounds! Carter hits threes 36% of the time and Kidd 34%, while respectively they average 1.0 and 1.6 steals per game.
At point guard for the Cavs, Larry Hughes (14.9 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.8 RPG) offers decent 3-point accuracy and some good defense with 1.3 SPG. Shooting guard Sasha Pavlovic (9 PPG, 1.6 APG, 2.4 RPG) can score from downtown with a .405 success rate. But neither Hughes nor Pavlovic can match the dynamic output of their counterparts on the Nets.
However, for the Cavs upfront it’s a whole other story. It’s difficult for any team to match-up with the combined likes of power forward Drew Gooden (11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG 1.1 APG), center Zydrunas Ilgauskas (11.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.6 APG) and small forward LeBron James (27.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.0 APG). Teams find James to be such a force to contend with, that they often leave the other two free. Additionally, Gooden’s .88 steals per game, Ilgauskas 1.26 blocks per game and James’ 1.60 steals and .71 blocks per game make them an intimidating trio.
Net’s swingman Mikki Moore (9.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.8 BPG) shoots 61% from the floor and is a solid inside presence. Small forward Richard Jefferson (16.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.7 APG) can hit inside and also outside (35% three-point shooter). New Jersey’s other swing, Jason Collins (2.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.5 BPG) is an intimidating 7-foot presence.
Overall, the Nets have better shooters and much better ball movement. Keeping the game in up-tempo mode will help them. But the Cavaliers’ front guys should be able to slow them down. New Jersey can hit the three and if they get hot in that area the Nets will be tough. But if they miss and have to play short ball, the Cavs should control the boards and the series. It opens which on May 6, Sunday, at 1 pm.
Maddux Sports Series Prediction:
Cleveland Cavaliers in 5 Games
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