LeBron James is expected to make his second consecutive start at point guard when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. James started at the point in place of the injured Derrick Rose (ankle) on Tuesday and contributed 34 points and 13 assists as Cleveland recorded a 119-112 win over Chicago.
James has long been considered one of the top passers in the NBA, but running the offense certainly ranks as a change in responsibilities. “I’m looking for my guys a little bit more starting at the point, especially in transition, I’m being more of a precise, precision passer and I’m not kind of full speed ahead in transition,” James told reporters. “I’m kind of looking at what’s going on and getting my guys the ball, but for me, I just try to stay in attack mode.” Brooklyn is having trouble slowing opponents, and the trend continued with Tuesday’s 125-121 setback against Orlando. The Nets are allowing an average of 122.5 points, with the worst effort being when they allowed 140 versus Indiana in the season opener.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cleveland), YES (Brooklyn)
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (3-1): The revamped lineup included Tristan Thompson starting at center, Kevin Love moving to power forward, J.R. Smith starting at shooting guard and Dwyane Wade on the bench. Wade requested coach Tyronn Lue use him as a reserve after three poor showings in the starting lineup, and he was able to deliver 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes against the Bulls. Rose will miss his third straight game and veteran Jose Calderon’s role is unclear after Lue named him the starting point guard on Monday and then didn’t play him at all against Chicago.
ABOUT THE NETS (2-2): Point guard D’Angelo Russell is averaging 23 points with his new team, but his 29-point effort on Tuesday came on 9-of-24 shooting and he contributed only one assist. Still, the third-year pro is a building block for the team and growing pains still are part of the process for Brooklyn, which was outscored 38-25 in the fourth quarter in the loss to Orlando. “Man, we were close. We kind of gave it to them,” Russell told reporters. “They didn’t force us into mistakes, we just kind of gave it to them. Guys made plays down the stretch.”
1. The Cavaliers have won four straight meetings and six of the last seven.
2. Smith is averaging four points on 5-of-25 shooting over his last three games.
3. Brooklyn SG Allen Crabbe recorded just six points on 2-of-11 shooting against the Magic after scoring 20 on 7-of-12 shooting two days earlier versus Atlanta.
PREDICTION: Cavaliers 116, Nets 97