Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets Pick & Prediction MARCH 23rd 2023

Stadium: Barclays Center Brooklyn
Logo Cleveland Cavaliers
Logo Brooklyn Nets

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While the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be peaking at the right time in a bid to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason, an ill-timed losing streak may force the Brooklyn Nets into playing at least one extra game to reach the playoffs.

Cleveland goes for the sweep of the two-game set and attempts to continue its recent surge Thursday night in Brooklyn, where the Nets are hoping to avoid a season-worst fifth straight loss.

Cleveland (46-28) is in good shape to clinch home-court in the postseason for the first time since 2018 in LeBron James' final season of his second stint. The Cavaliers already had surpassed last year's win total when they lost to the Nets in a play-in game. Following Tuesday's 115-109 victory over the Nets, they moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the fifth-place New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference, entering Wednesday.

Cleveland is 8-3 over its past 11 games since losing three straight Feb. 15-24. On Tuesday, the Cavs trailed by seven in the first quarter, took control in the second quarter and pulled away in the third before allowing a 24-point lead to get sliced down in the final minutes before struggling in the final minutes.

"It just took us a minute to get into the game," Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "Once we started moving the ball, the game became simple offensively for us and everybody got involved. I thought we played Cavaliers basketball. I think that's the way we've got to play."

Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points on 10-of-22 shooting, including a thunderous dunk in the second half. He also made five of Cleveland's 14 3-pointers after being 1 of 19 from behind the arc in his previous three games.

While Cleveland's desired opponent may be the Nets, Brooklyn (39-33) entered 2 1/2 games behind the Knicks and a half-game up on the Miami Heat.

Brooklyn has not held a lead in the second half in any of its past three games as it trailed by 17 last Thursday in a five-point loss to the Sacramento Kings and 22 in a six-point loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

The Nets are on their second four-game losing streak of the season. The other was Feb. 24-March 1 and the Nets followed it up by winning five of six, including wins at Boston and Denver.

Since their two-point win in Denver on March 12, the Nets are averaging 103.5 points while shooting 43.8 percent from the field. Perhaps more concerning for Brooklyn is its 3-point accuracy has started to falter as Tuesday's 27.3 percent showing (9-for-33) was the fourth time since the All-Star break it failed to shoot 30 percent or better from behind the arc.

During the losing streak, the Nets are shooting 31.8 percent from 3-point range. Among those struggling from 3-point range is Mikal Bridges, who was 0-for-8 on Tuesday and is 5-for-23 over his past three games.

"We're a team that has to shoot 3s," said Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn, whose team is shooting 38.1 percent overall from 3, fourth-best in the NBA. "That's how we're comprised. We have to make them."

--Field Level Media

Cleveland Cavaliers
Brooklyn Nets

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Brooklyn Nets

Reserve Spencer Dinwiddie scored 28 points as the host Brooklyn Nets overcame a lackluster third quarter and gained control midway through the fourth and held on for a 113-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Dinwiddie recorded his team-record 14th game with at least 20 points off the bench and shot 10 of 21 from the floor.

The Nets won their second straight game by overcoming an ugly third quarter in which they were outscored 35-25. They entered the fourth facing an 85-80 deficit but dominated most of the final quarter by outscoring Cleveland 33-23.

Dinwiddie scored 12 points in the fourth and played a significant role in Brooklyn's decisive 14-0 run by scoring nine points, including the last seven. During the run, Dinwiddie hit a pair of layups, a corner 3-pointer, and two free throws.

Dinwiddie's layup put Brooklyn up 110-94 with 3:26 remaining but the Nets were forced to sweat out the final minutes.

Kevin Love hit two 3-pointers in an 8-0 Cleveland run to make it 110-102 with 2:07 remaining. Following a missed 3-pointer by Love, Joe Harris hit a layup with 67 seconds left to make it a 112-102 game, but Cleveland was within 112-108 when Love hit two of three free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining.

The Nets iced the game on a free throw by rookie Rodions Kurucs with 3.8 seconds left.

D'Angelo Russell, who scored 36 in Brooklyn's triple-overtime win at Cleveland on Feb. 13, added 25 as the Nets shot 47.3 percent.

Jarrett Allen collected 15 points and 11 rebounds while Caris LeVert helped Brooklyn's reserves total 50 points by 14 points in the fourth.

Love scored 21 of his 24 points after halftime and pulled down 16 rebounds for Cleveland, which shot 40.2 percent and committed 18 turnovers. David Nwaba finished with a career-high 22 points for the Cavaliers.

The Nets took a 37-22 lead with 9:45 left in the second, but Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 63-43 through the end of the third quarter before the Nets regained control in the fourth. The Nets took the lead for good at 93-92 on a 3-point play by Dinwiddie with 8:57 left.

--Field Level Media