Cavaliers-Nets Preview

It hasn’t taken long for Mo Williams to adjust to a bigger

scoring role for the Cleveland Cavaliers, which isn’t good news for

the New Jersey Nets.

In the first game of a home-and-home series between the teams,

the Cavaliers will try for their ninth straight win over the

slumping Nets on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.

Williams was expected to take on a heavier scoring load for

Cleveland (3-3) in the wake of LeBron James’ departure. An All-Star

in 2009, Williams was second on the Cavs behind James last season

with 15.8 points and 5.3 assists per game.

He missed the team’s first three games with a groin injury and

then came off the bench in a loss to Atlanta last Tuesday. However,

Williams has provided a key boost since returning to the starting

lineup, scoring 50 points to go along with 10 assists, seven

rebounds and five steals in Cleveland’s last two games – both road

wins.

Williams shot 10 of 19 from the field in a 107-102 victory at

Washington on Saturday, scoring 10 of his 28 points in the final

four minutes of a back-and-forth game. Daniel Gibson, who averaged

6.3 points last season, added 19 to improve his season average to

15.0 points and give him 39 in the last two games.

“You have two guys that can spread the floor, both guys can beat

you off the dribble and both guys are very unselfish,” coach Byron

Scott said of Williams and Gibson. “They look for their teammates

and they’re both able to make big plays and big shots. It’s a

luxury for me to be able to have those guys on the floor at the

same time, especially in crunch time.”

Scott’s club will go for its third straight win Tuesday, and it

may have forward Antawn Jamison back after he missed the last three

games with a sore left knee.

Despite no longer having James, the Cavaliers will try to

continue their domination of the Nets in the first of back-to-back

games between the teams. They’ll meet again Wednesday night at

Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland has won eight straight in the

series, including four consecutive wins on the road.

The Nets (2-4) are also trying to avoid a fifth straight loss

overall. After a promising start, New Jersey’s offense has

struggled in four consecutive defeats, averaging 85.0 points while

shooting 40.4 percent. In their two victories, the Nets averaged

103.5 points on 50.4 percent shooting.

In their 101-89 loss to Miami on Saturday, the Nets trailed by

four points at the half, but were outscored 32-17 in the third

quarter. The night before against Orlando, they were outscored

32-16 coming out of the break en route to a 105-90 defeat.

“We’ve got to play better defense, take better care of the

basketball and have better third quarters,” coach Avery Johnson

said.

Against the Heat, Anthony Morrow scored 25 points and Brook

Lopez added 12, but Lopez missed 10 of his last 12 shots. Lopez is

leading the Nets in scoring with 18.8 points per game, but he’s

averaging 13.0 over the last three games while shooting 28.0

percent. He’s also still looking for his first double-double after

recording 33 last season.