Looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since the beginning of December, the Cleveland Cavaliers will get back stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love from injury/illness on Friday night in Brooklyn.
Love has been dealing with food poisoning that caused him to lose 10 pounds. The power forward played through it Monday but clearly wasn't feeling well in shooting 5-for-19 in a win over New Orleans. He sat out Wednesday's 106-94 home loss to Chicago. Love is averaging 21.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Irving has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury but is listed as probable. If Irving does play as expected, I guarantee you the team will yank him immediately if he's showing any signs of favoring that hamstring. There's just no reason to push Irving this early in the season and risk major injury. In the most recent fan voting for the NBA All-Star game, Irving, a three-time All-Star, leads all Eastern Conference backcourt players. He's averaging 23.9 points and 6.0 assists.
Friday's game in Brooklyn starts a season-high six-game road trip for the Cavs, who are 13-point favorites on NBA odds. The Cavs are 8-2 in their last 10 contests against Brooklyn. Cleveland won the first meeting of the season 119-99 at home on Dec. 23, leading by as many as 46. A season-high seven players scored in double figures. The Cavaliers are a perfect 10-0 vs. Atlantic Division teams this year.
One guy you won't see Friday is Kyle Korver. The Cavs are on the verge of acquiring the Hawks' sharpshooter but the deal hasn't been made official yet. Korver, 35, has averaged 9.5 points and shot 40.9 percent from 3-point range in 32 games this season. He will reportedly cost the Cavs a 2019 first-round pick and Mike Dunleavy Jr.
The Nets are probably the NBA's worst team, have lost four straight and are playing the second of a back-to-back after losing 121-109 in Indiana on Thursday. Brooklyn is 3-14 since Dec. 1, allowing its opponent to score more than 100 points in each loss. Swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sat Thursday with a hip injury and is questionable Friday.
Brooklyn is actually 4-1-1 ATS on NBA picks in its past six at home against Cleveland.