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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cleveland Versus New Jersey Preview

Eastern Conference Second Round

#2 Cleveland (50-32) vs. #6 New Jersey (41-41)

Season series: Cleveland, 2-1

New Jersey can win if…the Nets get enough defensive stops to fuel their transition game, enabling Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson to thrive in the open court. At least two of those three must play very well in one of the games in Cleveland in order to grab homecourt advantage.

Cleveland will win because…LeBron James is the best player on either team and he will make the key plays down the stretch, which could mean scoring or could mean finding open teammates if he is trapped. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao should enjoy an advantage inside against the Nets' frontcourt.

Other things to consider: New Jersey is a dangerous team, even without versatile big man Nenad Krstic, who went down early in the season with a knee injury. The Nets went into Miami last year and took game one from the eventual champions, so New Jersey is not a team that can be taken lightly, despite their ordinary record (they have the worst won-loss mark of any first round series winner in two decades). It would not be surprising at all if New Jersey wrests homecourt away from Cleveland in game one or two only to lose it back when the series shifts East. This series figures to go at least six games, but Cleveland just looks at least a little better than New Jersey in several areas: the Cavs have the best individual player (James), won the season series between the teams, gained a lot of playoff experience last year (which puts them ahead of Toronto, New Jersey's first round opponent) and were the better overall team all season long.

posted by David Friedman @ 6:04 PM



At Sunday, May 06, 2007 2:46:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

this is a 6 gamer for cleveland llebronis the man vince is god kidd is good but he will have to micheal jordan to beat the cavs because they have the better team than the nets. lebron dont have much more than kobe honestly i dont think the lakers could beat the nets or toronto so that just shows how great he is take him off there in the greg oden lottery at the top

At Monday, May 07, 2007 5:25:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I'd probably take Odom over whoever you consider to be the Cavs' second best player but the Lakers do not have the overall talent that the Cavs do--a former All-Star center (Z), a former 20 ppg scorer (Hughes), a promising young player (Pavlovic) and better than average big men (Gooden, Varejao). Look at the two starting lineups, minus Kobe and LeBron:

Z versus Bynum/Brown
Gooden versus Odom
Walton versus Pavlovic
Hughes versus Smush/Farmar

Cleveland is much, much better at least two positions (Z and Hughes). Walton-Pavlovic is probably a draw or slight edge to L.A., while Odom-Gooden is a slight to moderate edge to L.A. (I know that those would not be the exact matchups because Kobe is a 2 and LeBron is a 3; I'm just talking overall quality). Varejao, Snow and Marshall are at least as good, if not better, than what the Lakers bring off of the bench.

Overall, LeBron has much more help than Kobe does. Don't forget that it is not too long ago that Hughes averaged 22 ppg and that Marshall was putting up scoring and rebounding numbers roughly equal to Odom's. Those guys have accepted lesser roles to play on a winning team but they are still very good players.


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