Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers have built up a nice two-game winning streak at the expense of the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards, but it will be difficult to keep that winning streak alive through the NBA weekend. The Cavaliers will host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET) before travelling to Brooklyn to take on the Nets (7:30 p.m. ET) in the second game of a back-to-back. Both games will be televised on FOX Sports Ohio.
The Hawks (17-9) lost a 113-111 stunner to Cleveland in the first meeting this season, thanks to a timely putback by Alonzo Gee in the closing seconds, so they will be looking for revenge. Atlanta could be a bit tired, however, as they blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and barely escaped with a double-OT victory against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
The Nets defeated the Cavaliers back on Nov. 13, but plenty of things have changed in Brooklyn since then. After an underwhelming 14-14 start to the season, the Nets parted ways with head coach Avery Johnson earlier this week. Phil Jackson rumors are circulating as the franchise looks to find a coach to help them bounce back from a stretch punctuated by losses in 10 of the last 13 games overall. Expectations were high for Brooklyn coming into the season, but poor production from Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace has made it difficult for the team to stack wins.
Paul Flannery of SB Nation says it's time for Deron Williams to step up and elevate his level of play:
Obviously, this is not about the other max players on the roster. This is about Deron Williams, who has not been the franchise point guard he was in Utah and who is struggling through the worst season of his career in the first year of a five-year contract that will pay him almost $100 million.
Williams is shooting less than 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the arc, and hasn't been the kind of dynamic playmaker he was in Utah. In parts of three seasons with the Nets, Williams has been nothing short of a colossal disappointment, and now his hands are dirty with the blood of two coaches: Johnson and Jerry Sloan in Utah.
Will the Cavaliers bear the brunt of Brooklyn's frustration on Saturday night? It's up to Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao to make sure that doesn't happen.
Here's the full NBA weekend schedule from SI.com.