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New-look Nets open in Cleveland Wednesday
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 10/30/2013  at  4:16:00 AM
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Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Brooklyn -4, Total: 195

The Nets set their sights on the Cavaliers for the opener of a season in which the mentality is "championship or bust" for Deron Williams and company.

Brooklyn suffered a disappointing first-round loss at the hands of the Bulls in 2012-2013, while Cleveland showed some promise, yet ended up with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft lottery. This year, expectations are different for both teams as the Nets eye an NBA Championship while the Cavaliers look to simply make the playoffs. In the past 10 meetings between these clubs, Brooklyn is 8-2 SU and 5-5 ATS, including four straight victories. The Nets are 4-1 (SU and ATS) in the past five games it has played at Quicken Loans Arena. Last season, Cleveland struggled with the lines at home, going 17-24 ATS (42%), while the Nets were actually a strong road wager at 25-19 ATS (57%). There are no significant injuries other than C Andrew Bynum (knees), who is still rehabbing after signing a two-year deal with Cleveland, and there is no timetable set for his return.

Can the Nets open their season with a convincing road win? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Dave and StatFox Scott opened the season 1-0 ATS in Best Bets on Tuesday as Dave took the Magic to keep the score within a dozen points of the Pacers while Scott correctly predicted the Heat would cover the moderate spread at home versus the Bulls. Dave, StatFox Brian and StatFox Forecaster all went 2-1 ATS on their Tuesday picks.

The Nets were the talk of the summer after they traded with the Celtics to acquire both SF Paul Pierce and PF Kevin Garnett. SG Jason Terry also came along in the trade that shipped out MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace. Brooklyn threw away its future for a chance to win now, giving itself a two-year championship window at most. Brooklyn also brought in PF Andrei Kirilenko from the Timberwolves and SF Shaun Livingston from the Cavaliers, while drafting Mason Plumlee to fill their void at backup center. The Nets now have a high quality player at each of their starting positions as on opening night they’ll put out a lineup of PG Deron Williams, SG Joe Johnson and C Brook Lopez along with SF Paul Pierce and PF Kevin Garnett. Each of these players can be relied on to score the ball in crunch time and it will be interesting to see if new head coach Jason Kidd can get this team to the promised land.

The Cavaliers won the NBA Draft lottery and ended up selecting PF Anthony Bennett, a scoring forward out of UNLV. They also made a huge splash during the free agency period when they inked C Andrew Bynum to a two-year deal. When he was healthy playing for the Lakers in 2011-2012, Bynum was a top center in the league with 18.7 PPG (56% FG), 11.8 RPG and 1.9 BPG. Cleveland also signed PG Jarrett Jack (12.9 PPG and 5.6 APG) and SF Earl Clark (7.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG), who immediately give Cleveland some of the best depth in the NBA. PG Kyrie Irving burst on the scene last season and showed that he is a superstar in this league, averaging 22.5 PPG and 5.9 APG. If Cleveland can get Bynum back healthy, this team can really put some fear into the Eastern Conference when the playoffs come around. Even if Bynum doesn’t play a game, the Cavaliers will be still challenge for a playoff berth.

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