Health and Fitness

Nets, Cavaliers to open play-in Tuesday

NEW YORK — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have performed within the NBA Finals and Olympics, so they have been in nearly each sort of huge recreation there’s.

The play-in event is one thing new for them, and the Brooklyn Nets actually did not count on to expertise it this yr.

The Cleveland Cavaliers weren’t positive they might, both, after shedding 50 video games final season. Now one of many groups will lengthen its season into the playoffs by profitable the opener of the event Tuesday evening in Brooklyn.

‘Let’s get it on,’ Irving stated.

Both completed 44-38, with the Nets taking seventh place by going 3-1 in opposition to the Cavaliers. They wrapped up the tiebreaker Friday by beating Cleveland 118-107, although that did nothing to make the Cavs suppose they can not go to Brooklyn and win 5 nights later.

‘We imagine we are able to beat anyone on this league,’ coach J.B. Bickerstaff stated. ‘We simply must play our greatest basketball. We know what we’re going through.’

They’re going through a staff that was anticipated to be on the prime of the Eastern Conference, not one nonetheless making an attempt to play its approach into the postseason. But Irving could not play house video games till late final month as a result of he is not vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus. Durant missed 21 video games with a sprained left knee. James Harden was traded for Ben Simmons, who hasn’t performed due to again issues.



‘For us, we all know that we might provide you with each excuse on the planet of what occurred this season,’ Irving stated. ‘So many alternative issues transpired, ups and downs, and now we’re lastly right here and we’re in a position to carry out with each other for the primary time in a high-intense surroundings such because the playoffs.’

He made the most important shot in Cavaliers historical past, finishing their comeback from 3-1 down within the 2016 NBA Finals. Durant was MVP of the subsequent two NBA Finals and has three Olympic gold medals. Both have been MVPs of the world basketball championship and stated this recreation will really feel like one late in a playoff collection.

‘Game 7s, Olympics, simply go play,’ Durant stated. ‘I imply, cannot put an excessive amount of stress on your self. We perceive how essential the sport is already, so the very best factor to do is simply play free and keep on with the sport plan and belief in your teammates, and I believe that is often the way you attempt to method these video games, and we’ll see what occurs.’

The winner earns the No. 7 seed and faces No. 2 Boston in a first-round collection starting Sunday. The loser will get a second likelihood to get in as No. 8, internet hosting the winner of the Atlanta-Charlotte matchup Friday for the suitable to play top-seeded Miami.



The Cavaliers appeared simply headed to the postseason earlier than stumbling down the stretch after the lack of All-Star heart Jarrett Allen to a damaged finger. It’s nonetheless not recognized if he can return to face his former staff, however the Cavaliers know they must play robust, with or with out him.

‘J.B. likes to say win the scrap and all our battles are received within the trenches. That’s what it should must be Tuesday evening,’ ahead Kevin Love stated. ‘We have that familiarity with them and we all know what they’re able to, particularly with their two superstars that they’ve.’

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The 7-footer’s standing remained unclear as of Monday.

He went via an intense exercise that included capturing drills earlier than Sunday’s recreation as members of Cleveland’s entrance workplace carefully watched his each transfer. Allen solely had his injured finger taped to a different one after sporting a protecting splint for many of the previous few weeks.

Allen hasn’t performed since getting damage March 6, and the Cavs have not been the identical with out him. They went 3-8 of their final 11 video games and had no reply beneath Friday for Nets heart Andre Drummond, who had 15 factors and 12 rebounds.

‘He’s clearly the anchor of the protection and the issues he can do offensively and assist the opposite guys,’ Lauri Markkanen stated. ‘And I believe it is apparent that we miss him lots.’


Durant and Irving had been requested what they considered the play-in, which in its first season of the present format had the Lakers beat Golden State in final yr’s opening spherical.

‘Well No. 1, I believe any person’s within the again room hip-hip-hooraying, whoever created the play-in event, as a result of final yr you get Steph and LeBron,’ Irving stated. ‘This yr you get me and KD going in opposition to the Cavs within the play-in recreation after which you could have, within the Western Conference, Minnesota and the Clippers.’


The Cavs’ rebuild went from stagnant to supersonic in a single season.

Cleveland wasn’t anticipated to contend in 2022, let alongside double its win whole and be among the many East’s prime groups regardless of a rare rash of accidents.

Bickerstaff sensed one thing particular about his younger group in coaching camp.

‘This is what we anticipated,’ he stated earlier than Sunday’s win over Milwaukee. ‘From these early moments, we felt like we had one thing brewing. We’ve been hit onerous and some areas the place we actually have not had the chance to see what we’re nonetheless as a collective.

‘But as soon as we received this group collectively, we knew that they had a chance to be an excellent basketball staff. And, ups and downs and bumps and bruises, these kinds of issues, we’re right here and we have got a chance to maintain enjoying.’


AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.


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