The NBA released their upcoming schedule and the Cleveland Cavaliers will open up the 2013-2014 season at home against the new look Brooklyn Nets on October 30th.
With a new lineup and new coaching staff, the Brooklyn Nets are positioning themselves to challenge the Heat in the East.
After trading for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry in late June, the Brooklyn Nets named the recently retired Jason Kidd as their head coach. They have also added former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko since then, as well as Alan Henderson and former Cavalier Shaun Livingston.
Kidd and the Nets have built quite the staff to help support the first-time coach, adding former Nuggets assistant John Welch, former Raptors assistant Eric Hughes, former Pistons and New Jersey Nets head coach Lawrence Frank, as well as his assistant in Detroit, Roy Rogers.
Looking at this opening day matchup, we see two new look teams with two different styles.
The Cavaliers under Mike Brown are young and defense-oriented, and will utilize the pick-and-roll in the half court with superstar Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers’ plethora of big men. The Nets seem like they want to get out and run, similar to the playing style of Kidd, with their veteran, star-studded roster.
This game will prove a lot for both teams going into the new season, so it will be an interesting one to watch. The keys for Cleveland will be their ability to defend the Deron Williams-led fast break, as well as their rotations in the half court. With so many stars like the Nets have, help defense will be the only way to slow down a loaded offense.
Offensively, the Cavs can, and I think will, run when they go with their smaller lineup. Newcomer Anthony Bennett is excellent on the break, and Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson definitely have the ability to move up and down effectively.
It’s going to be interesting to see what type of role Andrew Bynum plays on this Irving-led Cleveland side. While he has the ability, Bynum is historically not a pick-and-roll guy, as he generally uses his frame in low post situations. He definitely has the ability as the go-to in the low post, and could counter the pick-and-roll game well between Kyrie and whoever gets thrown in as Bynum’s other front court teammate. The Cavaliers could really spread the court throwing in Bennett as the four with Bynum, running pick-and-pops with Bennett, who can shoot the open jumper. Bynum is a good offensive rebounder as well, averaging more than three a game in his last two years with the Lakers.
It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers run the half court, but look for a very dynamic, dangerous team that will challenge in the Eastern Conference.
Other games to mark on your calendar are the nationally televised game against the Miami Heat, who visit on November 27th, the January 22nd matchup with Chicago and the returned Derrick Rose, and the February 5th contest with the Lakers, the team that fired Mike Brown last season.