The #7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs is up for grabs in the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament, with the seventh-place Brooklyn Nets hosting the eighth-place Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets are a big favorite at -9.5 over the Cavs, but the line could head north and reach double digits by tip-off.

NBA Playoffs Play-in Tournament Eastern Conference Brooklyn Nets Cleveland Cavs Irving Durant
Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets gives teammate Kevin Durant a high-five after he completed a three-point play against the Cleveland Cavs. (Image: Getty)

The winner secures the #7 seed and a date with the #2 Boston Celtics in the first round of the postseason. The loser still has a shot at the #8 seed and will host the winner of the ninth-place Atlanta Hawks versus the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets.

2022 NBA Play-In Tournament Preview – Eastern Conference
Cleveland Cavs (44-38) at Brooklyn Nets (44-38)
  • Tip-off: 7 pm ET
  • Location: Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn, NY
  • Point Spread: BKN -9.5
  • Total: 226.5 o/u
  • Moneyline: CLE +400 / BKN -500

During the regular season, the Cavs were 42-36-4 ATS. The Nets were the second-worst team in the NBA beating the spread with a 32-48-2 ATS record.

According to a recent update by DraftKings, the Cavs are long shots at +25000 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship. The Nets are +600 odds to win the title and the third-highest team on the futures board.

Banged-up Cavs ahead of schedule

The Cavs caught a lot of curious eyes at the beginning of the season with a 9-5 start. They were expected to be one of the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference, especially after they were decimated with injuries to key players like Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio. Rubio went down with a knee injury, but the Cavs kept winning.

The Cavs peaked in early February with a 35-21 record, putting them near the top of the Eastern Conference standings thanks to inspired play from Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and rookie Evan Mobley. They stumbled into the postseason winning just nine of their final 26 games after starting center Jarrett Allen went down with a fractured finger injury. He won’t take the court in the play-in tournament.

“We believe we can beat anybody in this league,” said head coach JB Bickerstaff said. “Just have to play our best basketball. We know what we’re facing.”

Despite a rough stretch in the final two months of the season, the Cavs aren’t afraid to play the Nets.

“JB likes to say win the scrap and all our battles are won in the trenches,” said veteran forward Kevin Love. “That’s what it’s going to have to be Tuesday night. We have that familiarity with them and we know what they’re capable of, especially with their two superstars that they have.”

Nets: KD and Kyrie time

Even though the Nets were just the seventh-best team in the regular season, many teams don’t want to face them in the postseason. They’re a dangerous team, especially as a potential #7 seed or even a #8 seed.

Kevin Durant kicks up his game a couple of extra notches in the postseason. All the Nets have to do is get Durant the ball and watch him go to work. Expect Durant to unleash 40-plus points for the Nets in the play-in tournament.

“We understand how important the game is already, so the best thing to do is just play free and stick to the game plan and trust in your teammates, and I think that’s usually how you try to approach these games, and we’ll see what happens,” said Durant.

Kyrie Irving can play in home games after New York City rolled back its health mandate for unvaccinated athletes and performers. Irving missed most of the Nets’ regular-season home games at Barclay’s Center, but the team didn’t have to worry about Irving only suiting up for road games.

“For us, we know that we could come up with every excuse in the world of what happened this season,” said Irving. “So many different things transpired, ups and downs, and now we’re finally here and we’re able to perform with one another for the first time in a high-intense environment such as the playoffs.”

The Nets won’t have Ben Simmons in the play-in tournament. Simmons has yet to make his debut with the Nets after a herniated disc slowed down his progress. He could be ready to play in the first round, but for now, Simmons will be in street clothes for the play-in tournament.

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