The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers meet in a heavyweight showdown at the Staples Center on Sunday evening. This is the final stop on a five-game road trip for the Nets. They’re looking for a sweep, with four wins over the Warriors, 134-117, Kings, 136-125, Suns, 128-124, and most impressively, 109-98 over the Lakers on Thursday.
I know the Lakers have been without Anthony Davis, but holding them to less than 100 points had to feel good for the defense. It’s rare that we see the Nets play that well defensively. I don’t care who it is against or how healthy their opponent is. The Nets have been embarrassing in that regard throughout the season. It’s only one game, though, so don’t get too exciting.
The Nets have been in good form on the road, advancing to 19-12 on the season and playing like the favorites to win in the Eastern Conference. They’re climbing up and just 1.5 games away from the Philadelphia 76ers in the standings. The East looks like a three-team race between the Bucks, Nets, and 76ers. It’s important not to forget about the Celtics, but they might have to make a deal at the deadline.
Brooklyn will be without Kevin Durant again on Sunday night. Despite the absence of Durant, they have been doing just fine with James Harden and Kyrie Irving running the show. They are going to have to dig deep against a fully healthy Clippers team on Sunday. Paul George is back, and don’t forget about Patrick Beverley. Beverley’s presence is often overlooked, but he plays a vital role for the Clippers.
The Clippers are coming off a 116-112 win in an elite showdown against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are for real, but the Clippers with a healthy George look like the best team in the Western Conference. The Clippers were able to respond after dropping a 114-96 decision against the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday. That was without George on the floor, as he made his return to action on Friday in the 116-112 victory.
George scored 15 points in his return, while Kawhi Leonard led the clippers with 29 points. Lou Williams, Marcus Morris, and Beverley all recorded at least 17 points as well. There’s just too many options for the Clippers when George is active. Do the Nets have an answer? Head below for our free Nets vs. Clippers pick on February 21, 2021.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers NBA Betting Odds:
Nets vs. Clippers Prediction:
This is a potential preview of the NBA Finals. I can’t really argue with that, but it’s hard to just ignore the Lakers now because of their recent struggles. That’s a much different team with AD in the lineup. They are the defending champs for a reason. The Clippers did get better in the offseason by adding Serge Ibaka to their roster, though. Ibaka was an unsung hero for the Toronto Raptors during their championship run, and he’s going to be undervalued with the Clippers as well this season.
They need Ibaka to slow down AD in the playoffs, something absent a season ago down low in the paint. Their defense was top-notch, but open to improvement in the paint. The Clippers are fifth in the NBA with an average of 108.7 points allowed per game. Shutting down the Nets’ offense completely is a pipedream, that’s not happening.
However, the Clippers have the horses to frustrate James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Fortunately, they won’t have to concern themselves with Kevin Durant. Durant sitting out hasn’t impacted the Nets yet during this road trip, though I do believe he is going to be missed on Sunday against the Clippers. The Clippers should be able to cut through the Nets’ defense with ease.
They are sixth in the NBA with an average of 115.5 points netted per game, and fully capable of lighting the scoreboard by attacking the rim or connecting from deep. The Clippers lead the league with a three-point percentage of 41.9%. They’re also the best team in the league with 84.4% from the charity stripe. The Nets’ defensive struggles have been well noted this season.
With 117.3 points against per game, the Nets are 28th in the NBA defensively. Yeah, they did manage to slow down the Lakers, but that Laker offense was useless without AD again last night versus the Heat. How much of it was the Nets’ defense or the Lakers failing to hit shots?
The Nets gave up 124 points against the Suns, 125 against the Kings, and 117 against the Warriors on this road trip. It doesn’t look like an improvement to me despite beating up on an AD-less Lakers lineup. 6 might look attractive on the Nets given their success on this road trip, but is awfully trappy. Expect the Clippers to take advantage of a road weary Nets team that struggles to contain a healthy starting five on Sunday night.