The Nets extended their winning streak in survival mode to nine games with a 125-117 victory over the third-seeded Cavaliers on Monday night, just days after dispatching the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
The nine-game winning streak was the franchise’s longest since 2004 — when current Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn was part of a team that won 14 straight games.
“We’ve got to approach every game the same way, same approach, same mentality, same unity,” said TJ Warren, who scored 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field off the bench. “Everyone comes in and plays for each other. Let’s keep this going.”
Kevin Durant fouled out with 1:54 left in the fourth quarter, and Cavs star Darius Garland rallied Cleveland from a 19-point deficit late in the game, but the Nets held on to win despite Garland’s 46-point performance.
It’s yet another victory that demonstrates the Nets’ ascension to the top of the Eastern Conference. They have now surpassed the Cavaliers for the No. 3 seed in the East after defeating championship contenders in back-to-back games.
The Nets have won 13 of their last 14 games and are now 20-7 since Jacque Vaughn took over as head coach for Steve Nash.
This season, the Nets improved to 12-3 in clutch games (those decided by five or fewer points in the final five minutes of regulation or overtime).
After defeating two of the East’s top three seeds, the only team the Nets have yet to defeat is the Boston Celtics.
The Cavaliers hung in there late in the game thanks to their cunning All-Star Garland, who got to where he wanted on the floor. After Ben Simmons neutralised Donovan Mitchell on the other end of the floor, the Cavaliers ran almost entirely through him.
Mitchell, who averages 29 points per game, scored 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Simmons was his primary defender for the majority of the night, blanketing him whenever he had the ball.
Durant and Kyrie Irving each finished with 32 points. Durant surpassed Tim Duncan for 15th place on the all-time scoring list in the NBA. Yuta Watanabe scored 10 points off the bench and Simmons finished with four points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
Jarrett Allen, an ex-Net, finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Caris LeVert, a former Net, had only eight points in 20 minutes.
The Nets are now the third seed in the Eastern Conference and will look to keep that position against the Hawks on Wednesday in Atlanta.