‘Consistently dominant’ Jarrett Allen, Cavs aim to topple Nets


Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen did not back down when tasked with a matchup against Rudy Gobert and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ stout defense on Friday night.

Two nights later, Allen will face the team that drafted him when the Cavaliers host the struggling Brooklyn Nets.

Donovan Mitchell will miss his sixth straight game with a bruised left knee, and the Cavaliers are a respectable 9-7 when he does not play this season. They improved to 3-2 in Mitchell’s current absence thanks to Allen’s performance in a 113-104 overtime win over the Timberwolves on Friday.

Allen scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 18 rebounds — his third-highest total of the season — and did it in a game with 19 lead changes and 16 ties. Allen has 31 double-doubles for the Cavaliers, who are 23-8 in those games.

“He’s just been consistently dominant,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Allen, who was Brooklyn’s first-round draft pick in 2017 and was part of a multi-team trade that sent James Harden from Houston to the Nets in 2021.

“He’s just been phenomenal. It’s a testament to him as a human being, as a basketball player, to just want to do more to help the team win. That’s who J.A. is.”

The Cavaliers holds a half-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for second place in the Eastern Conference.

Besides Allen, the Cavaliers hope to see another big showing from Darius Garland. He led Cleveland on Friday with 34 points, two shy of his season high. He is averaging 22.6 in the first five games of Mitchell’s absence.

Mitchell scored 99 points in the first three meetings with the Nets while Allen posted two double-doubles.

The Nets have lost their past two games, but they won three of four on a crucial homestand by beating the Atlanta Hawks twice and rallying for a five-point win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Brooklyn is playing the third contest of a five-game trip but is coming off consecutive subpar showings in losses to the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets.

After allowing the Pistons to shoot 52.4 percent in Thursday’s 118-112 setback, the Nets were even worse on Saturday. Brooklyn allowed the Hornets to shoot 54.3 percent and got outscored 56-38 in the paint during a 110-99 loss, resulting in Nets interim coach Kevin Ollie being critical of his team’s effort.

“I haven’t watched the tape, but my eyes don’t lie,” Ollie said. “I don’t remember us getting a single 50/50 ball, I really don’t.

Cam Thomas returned from missing six games with an ankle injury and scored 31 points vs. the Hornets, but the Nets shot 40 percent from the field. Mikal Bridges added 19 points but made just 6 of 18 shots. He is shooting 32.7 percent (18 of 55) in his past four games since scoring 38 against Atlanta on March 2.

“We have to take care of our business and win these last games, and hopefully things will turn around and go in our favor,” Thomas said. “But we have to stick to it and keep playing.”

–Field Level Media

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