CLEVELAND — Even through the Nets’ league-best eight-game winning streak, people were still questioning the value of those wins, the quality of the teams Brooklyn was beating.
Until the complete destruction of Milwaukee on Friday. And after taking Christmas, Nets confidence is at an all-time high ahead of Monday’s clash with compatriot Cleveland.
“We’re coming for everybody, man,” Nic Claxton said during his on-court interview after the Bucks win. “We have had a lot of disappointments this season, in recent seasons. But things are moving. It just has to continue. »
The Nets knocked the 2021 champions off their perch atop the Eastern Conference. Now they will face the Cavaliers, who have the best point differential in the league.
“It’s a big win for us,” Ben Simmons said of the win over Milwaukee. “The next game is Cleveland, so [we have to keep it].”
After passing their test against Giannis Antetokounmpo, Claxton (and to a lesser extent Simmons) will now face All-Star center Jarrett Allen.
Claxton is Allen’s successor and replacement. Brooklyn traded Allen partly because they couldn’t pay him, and also because the Nets needed a first-round pick to get James Harden and couldn’t return Landry Shamet for one. But above all, they had faith in Claxton to become what he is becoming.
Royce O’Neale is back to his old form, after being overworked early on and missing a few games for personal reasons. He had been second in the league within minutes with only teammate Kevin Durant before being sidelined.
The veteran winger has steadily improved over his four return games, returning scoreless on Dec. 16 in Toronto but scoring 11, 14 and then 17 points on Friday. He should be full of energy coming to Cleveland.
“Yeah, I should keep apologizing to him, taking him out to dinner,” Jacque Vaughn said. “It was on me, playing him too many minutes, but that was because I like what he does. And he ended up missing two games.
“He missed the Indiana game, missed the Washington game, then he had to have three days too. And I thought that really put him in a position where mentally and physically he was able to recharge. Now you see the value it brings to us at both ends of the floor. So I take responsibility for throwing it in the ground for those first two weeks, of course.
Winger Joe Harris missed Friday with left knee pain and will face the Cavaliers on Monday. David Duke Jr., Kessler Edwards, Day’Ron Sharpe and Alondes Williams will also not play.
Kevin Durant is 16th on the NBA’s all-time career scorers list with 26,484 points, having recently passed Hall of Famers John Havlicek and Paul Pierce. Next up is Tim Duncan, 15th in the Spurs Hall of Fame, within a dozen points with 26,496.