The Cleveland Cavaliers are now 9-18 without Jarrett Allen this season, but he may not even have been able to help stop the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were simply too much for them to overcome.
Durant, one of the deadliest scorers to ever play in the NBA, put on his point-forward hat today while finishing with a good all-around stat line of 25 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, two steals and three blocks. He was heavily involved on both ends of the floor, which played a huge role in the Nets’ success.
While Durant played well on both ends, Irving put on another show on the offensive end. Irving had a perfect first half, making 9 of 9 shots including two triples to finish with 20 points and four assists, then finished the game with 34 points and 12 assists while shooting 12 of 15 overall.
It felt like Uncle Drew couldn’t miss, and the attention he drew from defenses opened up too many passing lanes for Cleveland to deal with. People lost track of everyone, including Durant, almost whenever Irving touched the ball.
The Cavaliers were game, with Darius Garland leading the way with 34 points and five assists, but everytime they got it close, the Nets found a way to roar back. Cleveland fought well in the second half, going on a big run that cut a 22-point third quarter lead to a 99-93 deficit with 4:43 in the game, but were never able to take a lead in the game as it finished 115-108.
Sometimes it’s about having the best players on the floor. Cleveland were game, but there’s no arguing that the two best players on the floor belonged to the Nets. In my pre-game prediction, I shared that I thought the Cavs would make it tough and have their moments, but would eventually be unable to overcome the superior team while keeping it close. That’s exactly what happened, and now Garland and his teammates will have a second chance to make it to the postseason.
The Nets can now look forward to facing a Celtics team that will be missing Robert Williams III for likely the entire series, which is a big loss for Boston. It’s not going to be an easy series, considering that the Celtics still have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown along with a strong supporting crew, so it should be a fun battle.