Nets forward Mikal Bridges reacts during the third quarter against the...

Nets forward Mikal Bridges reacts during the third quarter against the Cavaliers at Barclays Center on Tuesday. Credit: Brad Penner

Yes, the Nets had heard the report before Tuesday night’s game.

They had been told about the anonymously sourced story from saying that the Nets are the team the Cavaliers want in the playoffs, that “they are privately hoping for a Brooklyn matchup.”

But it’s one thing to hear that a team doesn’t fear you and quite another to feel that firsthand as the they did Tuesday night in their 115-109 loss to the Cavaliers at the Barclays Center.

The Nets had no answer for Cleveland superstar Donovan Mitchell, who led all scorers with 31 points. There were times he was so spectacular that he brought the Barclay Center fans to their feet, most notably early in the fourth quarter when he finished a fast break with a one-handed slam over Yuta Watanabe.

The Nets (39-33) have lost four in a row, meaning they are hanging on to the sixth and final playoff spot by their fingernails. The loss drops the Nets to 2 ½ games behind the fifth place Knicks in the Eastern Conference and just a half-game ahead of the seventh-place Heat.

The Cavaliers are pretty much locked into fourth place given that they entered Tuesday night’s play four games behind the 76ers and three games ahead of the Knicks.

If Mitchell wasn’t bad enough to handle once, here’s the kicker: The Nets have to come back Thursday and face him once more as they host Cleveland again.

When Nets coach Jacque Vaughn was asked after the game what strategy he would use to keep his team’s confidence up considering the skid they were in, he noted that the Nets have survived tough spots before and come up with big wins when they needed them.

“We have won on the road. We have won at home. We have won against high-quality teams,” Vaughn said. “We’ve done it. We’ve seen. I think that’s the message for our group. We just have a stretch right now where we have to pull things together and stay together. No doubt this group, we have good men in the locker room. You just remind them of all the good things they’ve done.”

The Nets trailed by as many as many as 24 points in the third quarter. They managed to tighten the score when they went on a 20-4 run late in the game, but it proved to be too little too late.

Day’Ron Sharpe was a bright spot for the Nets as he scored 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds.

Spencer Dinwiddie added 19 points for the Nets while Mikal Bridges had 18. The two, however, combined to shoot just 15-for-36.

The Nets did a good job of not getting beaten on the boards like they have against big teams in the past. The Nets outrebounded the Cavaliers 49-34.

Meanwhile, they continued to struggled from three-point range, shooting 9-for-31 from behind the arc.

“I think collectively obviously the three-point shots haven’t been falling and then guys start turning some shots down,” Dinwiddie said. “We have to keep shooting the good looks. It’s a make-or-miss league and we have to convert those attempts.”

Notes & quotes: Dinwiddie when asked about playing Jarrett Allen, his former teammate: “As far as Jarrett Allen, I don’t think anyone in the Brooklyn Nets organization thinks he’s a good rebounder or is scared of him at all. We look forward to dunking on Jarrett Allen.”

Allen finished with 12 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.

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