1. When the Nets and Cavaliers met on opening night, hopes were higher for both squads. Which team has a better overall season outlook?
Chris Manning, Right Down Euclid Co-EIC: Based on the injuries that have taken away Brooklyn’s best player (Brook Lopez) for the season, the answer by default here is the Wine & Gold. They have well documented flaws and issues on both sides of the ball, but they probably can still make the playoffs because how awful the Eastern Conference is. The Nets, on the other hand, look dead in the water in terms of reaching their goal of winning a title. Age finally has fully caught to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce hasn’t played at a very high level and Deron Williams has been in and out of the lineup. They may still be able to win their division considering they are grouped with the Knicks, Raptors and Celtics, but, without Lopez, I don’t think they can go very far in the playoffs.
Tom Lorenzo, NetsDaily.com: Without sounding like a “homer,” I think the Nets will have a better overall season outlook. And I say that because this season is more important to the Nets than it is the Cavaliers. If the Cavs finish 10 games under .500 I don’t think that’s a lost season — not at this point. It’s part of the process, with the Cavs having a much better long-term prospects than the Nets. It the Nets finish 10 games under .500 it’s a disaster of a season. So I think with a greater sense of urgency, the Nets should be in better shape this year than the Cavs. Beyond, Cleveland is the better team.
Chris Longo, Managing Editor, Backdrop Magazine: On opening night, I left The Q befuddled as to why Jason Kidd chose to play the Cavs like it was the preseason, sitting Deron Williams the majority of the second half in a tightly contested game. The loss left a bad taste in my mouth but I tried to hold my head up as I walked out of the arena amongst a sea of Wine and Gold. I was convinced that Brooklyn would not only be the superior team this season, but a borderline title contender. Now? The word “disaster” comes to mind. The expectation in Cleveland was this Cavs team could compete for the playoffs. That hope is still there, although I’d argue the team is playing worse than many expected. The Nets still have the better season outlook considering they have a decent shot to win the worst division in basketball history if they can find some consistency.
2. The Cavs clearly have had enough with Andrew Bynum, while the “win-now” Nets could use the services of a 7-foot, double-double threat. Can you sell the Nets on taking a risk and trading for or signing Bynum, should he be released by the Cavs, or is he a lost cause?
CM: Bynum would be a short term plug on a team with a short contending window if anything at all. Even when he is on the court and making shots, he slows down the tempo to a crawl and destroys spacing on the inside. With the Cavaliers, he had a tendency to let himself stand around near and in between the elbows. That just so happens to be area where Kevin Garnett is at his most effective. The Nets would be better served to stand pat. As for the Wine & Gold, they might be best served to try and package Bynum’s expiring deal and one of their many first round picks for a piece that actually compliments Kyrie Irving. That player is either a big with post moves who can also shoot from mid-range or a three-and-d wing.
TL: I think the Nets would be wise to pass on Bynum. The last thing they need is to take a flier on a player of his ilk and not have it pan out. They’d wind up with another All-Star talent who, if he doesn’t pan out, becomes another over-paid, under-performing player. That’s not the gamble the Nets need right now. They need to win basketball games, not headlines.
CL: Billy King needs to go down with the sinking ship he chartered. Bynum still has some trade value and the Nets, well, they don’t have anything of value to trade. This is a Nets team that clearly still doesn’t know their roles on the offensive side of the ball and throwing Bynum into that mix is another disaster waiting to happen. At this point, I’d rather see Mason Plumlee get minutes.
3. Who gets the better of the power forward matchup on offense and on the glass: Tristan Thompson or Kevin Garnett?
CM: Thompson is going to do the damn thing against Garnett here. The future hall of famer is slowing down here posting his lowest defense rebounding total since his second season way back in 1996. On Thompson’s end, he is pulling down 3.3 rebounds per game on offense and 6.2 on defense – both of which are career highs and both of which eclipse Garnett’s averages. As for their offensive matchup, Thompson has been pretty inconsistent on defense, but Garnett isn’t athletic enough at his advanced age to give him fits. Thompson might struggle as well, as he still hasn’t shown any post moves that regularly result in made field goals. But all in all, this may be the most interesting matchup to watch in this game.
TL: I’ll say Thompson. Yes, Garnett is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but this year he’s nothing more than a mediocre power forward. He doesn’t have the game to keep pace with the younger Thompson. At times he’ll get the best of Thompson, but overall I’d expect Garnett to have less of an impact. But, really, that’s OK. The Nets need their guards to take this game over if they want to win. They need to get another All-Star caliber game from Deron Williams, some stretch shooting from Joe Johnson and some all-around defensive effort to win this game.
CL: It didn’t take KG coming out and saying he didn’t know his role in the offense to see that he has looked lost with the ball in his hands all season long. As for Thompson, he’s been a solid contributor for Cleveland offensively but he’ll have trouble going up against Garnett on the glass, as KG has been fairly consistent in the rebounding department, just as you’d expect from the future hall of famer.