As the Brooklyn Nets go for their third consecutive win tonight, it will have to go by virtue of the previous two: without two key contributors.
Forward Gerald Wallace will miss his fifth straight game with a sprained ankle and guard MarShon Brooks will be out for the third straight game with the same injury.
Without those two players, however, the Nets (3-2) have been able to put together a two-game win streak with two victories over the Orlando Magic. Tonight, at home, Brooklyn will try to repeat that success when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-5).
Brooklyn will look to continue its success on the low block tonight, as it appears to have the slight advantage in the front court. Forward Kris Humphries is coming off a monster game in which he scored 14 points and pulled down 21 rebounds in the Nets' 82-74 win over the Magic.
Centers Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche each had solid games in the Nets' first win over Orlando last Friday, as the duo combined for 29 points.
Tonight, the Nets big men will have to deal with Anderson Varejao, a talented center that can be contained if defended correctly.
Brooklyn's biggest problem will likely come in the back court, contending against last year's rookie sensation Kyrie Irving. It hasn't taken long for Irving to become a flashy scorer in the NBA, and he'll probably showcase that ability tonight.
In the Cavs' 106-91 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, Irving put up an impressive 20 points. Cleveland has also had depth off its bench in the early part of this season, with guard Daniel Gibson contributing on a nightly basis. Gibson finished with 16 points off the bench in the loss to the Thunder.
So far, the Nets' player with the biggest struggles has been guard Joe Johnson. Despite his inability to score and low shooting percentage, Brooklyn has been able to pick him up to get wins. He has said that he will come around -- and he has the public support from his teammates -- so expect him to have his first big night in Brooklyn sometime soon.
Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at Barclays Center.