Finally it is known for sure the Cavs will get the New Jersey Nets in the second round. Although Game 6 tonight was much tighter than I thought. The Raptors died hard.
Here are the game times:
Game 1 - Sunday, NJ at Cavs, 1 p.m., ABC
Game 2 - Tuesday, NJ at Cavs, 8 p.m., TNT
Game 3 - Saturday, May 12, Cavs at NJ, 5 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 - Monday, May 14, Cavs at New Jersey, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 5 - Wednesday, May 16, at TBD, TNT
Game 6 - Friday, May 18, Cavs at New Jersey , TBD, ESPN
Game 7 - Sunday, May 20, NJ at Cavs, TBD, TNT
Anyway, like the Cavs, I have been preparing fruitfully for the series. You can get the general overview and player-by-player matchups and individual scouting breakdown in Sunday's Beacon Journal and on Ohio.com (yes, it's already done).
Here's a deeper look at the Nets, from several scouts I spoke at length with:
--The Nets run many of the same sets as the Wizards, which is a relic from when Eddie Jordan installed the Princeton offense under Byron Scott. They will use these sets -- like the guard-to-guard action the Wizards and the Nets call "chin" and the side dribble handoff action known to both teams as "forwards out" -- early in games. Late in tight games, though, they will mostly rely on pick-and-roll action setting up Jason Kidd and Vince Carter and spreading the floor with others.
--The Nets get almost no low post scoring from their bigs. While Mikki Moore has become an option for them over the last few months, he gets most of his points on mid-range jumpers and putbacks. The Nets paint scoring comes from dribble penetration and from posting Carter and Kidd, who often have smaller defenders.
--The X-factor player for them is Richard Jefferson, the scouts and I believe. Although Carter will occasionally get hot from the outside and put up 40 points, he's going to get his 25-30 points through various drives, foul shots and 40 percent shooting from the outside. Kidd will make outside shots at times, but he often takes more than he should. Over the last two years, when Jefferson gets going against the Cavs, the Nets win. When he doesn't, they don't. Jersey need all three guys to be going to beat the Cavs on most nights.
--Kidd is most dangerous when he gets into the paint, causing the defense to collapse. This is obvious, but the thing is, he's got lots of ways to get into the paint. Including when he backs guys down. Also, he's tremendous in the fast break because he'll look to throw 30 or 40 foot passes that beat the defense. He's one of the best passers of all time and he averaged a triple double in the series with the Raps.
--Late in games the Nets usually will go small with Moore, Collins or Josh Boone as their center and Bostjan Nachbar as the 4-man. Nachbar's purpose is to spread the floor for when teams collapse on Carter or Kidd on drives. Nachbar will get open 3s, it is a certainty. Jefferson also fills this role, but he's more likely to drive, of course. This is when they will often run their "fist spread play," which has several options but involves Carter and Kidd creating with screen rolls. Just like in Game 6 tonight, they really want to pressure the defense to either double team to allow a kickout or draw a foul going 1-on-1.
--Not unlike the Cavs, the Nets' mission on defensive is to deny the middle and "shrink the floor." Often they will go under on pick-and-rolls to discourage driving and encourage pull up jumpers. The Cavs will often do this as well.
--Here's the rub on that, though, in general the Nets perimeter guys are not good on ball defenders and the guys in the back are not shot changers. They are best at playing angles and helping and recovering. This isn't unlike the Cavs, either, considering their troubles with quick drivers.
--The Nets do not force a lot of turnovers, they get many off their fast break chances when Kidd or other grab a long rebound off a jumper miss and they push. Overall, the Nets aren't great rebounders and really could have trouble with the Cavs offensive rebounders.
--The Nets really had a problem dealing with LeBron James going into the post in the last meeting and it totally took a toll on Jefferson. Also, while Jason Collins battles on defense, he's not very good moving on pick-and-rolls. In fact, Zydrunas Ilgauskas may actually be quicker moving out there.
Much more later, of course. I am planning on live blogging Game 1.