Here's an early-season surprise: The Nets' home opponent tonight, the Cavaliers, are .500 to start the season, led by point guard Mo Williams (20.7 ppg) and a guy named J.J. Hickson who's been the team's new offensive weapon, averaging 16.5 points per game. Not only that, the team is coming off two consecutive road wins, and they're now averaging 103.7 points per game away from the Quicken Loans Arena, which is eighth best in the league. And what is the Nets' scoring output at home? 92 points, third worst in the league. The Nets are getting to the line frequently at home -- 107 attempts, fourth best in the league, and they're shooting 76.6 percent there -- but they've been inconsistent from three and haven't really gotten their mid-range game going. Overall, nearly 40 percent of their offense has come from Brook Lopez's post-ups and Devin Harris' penetration.
On defense, the Nets have to contain the Cavaliers' lightning-quick guards, Williams and Daniel Gibson, from getting into the paint and getting open on the perimeter off the pick-and-roll. They also have to control Cleveland's mobile big men, Hickson and Anderson Varejao. Hickson is a first-year starter who's showing signs he can one day be a dominant, all-around power forward with his post-up game, ability to pop out and shoot, and for the way he excels in transition. Varejao is doing what he's always been good at -- being active around the basket -- and he is averaging a near double-double (9.8 ppg and 10.8 rpg). If the Nets can neutralize the Cavaliers' inside-outside movements, contest their shots and make them shoot a low percentage, the benefit they have is their rebounding edge on defensive rebounds -- not to mention, offensive as well -- at home versus the Cavs on the road.
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