The Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets are a couple of franchises that have designed themselves to make a strong run at the NBA title. Last season the Nets had to play without Kevin Durant, so their aspirations had to wait until now.
The Clippers saw their season come to a rather unceremonious ending at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in the bubble. But these teams are back, and even though the Nets are playing without Durant at the moment, they still furnish formidable opposition as these teams meet at the Staples Center on Sunday night.
Tipoff is 8 p.m. Eastern time at the Staples Center, and ESPN will televise it. Don't forget that if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can please wagers in real time, even after the game begins, through the magic of Sports Betting Prime.
The Clippers come into this game with a record of 22 - 9, and they have been more than solid against the pointspread, posting an 18 - 13 mark. Currently they are two and a half games behind the Utah Jazz in the West, with the same record as their neighbors, the Lakers.
The Nets, after a relatively slow start, are now 19 - 12 (15 - 16 ATS), and they are 1.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers in the East. So both of these teams are well within striking distance of being able to secure the top seed in their respective conferences, which would give them home court advantage through their playoff bracket.
There is no disputing that both teams possess plenty of firepower. Obviously when you have the combination of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, you are going to be able to put points on the board. And they certainly have for the Clippers, averaging over 50 points per game between them. The Nets have the Kevin Durant - Kyrie Irving combo that, after some drama from Irving, was settling down, but then the addition of James Harden, who was certainly not content with his situation in Houston, had the potential of bringing this whole thing to a new level.
At the moment, Durant is sitting this out with a hamstring injury. But Harden, who is obviously happy in his new surroundings (which includes assistant coach Mike D'Antoni, who was his head coach in Houston), is averaging 11.6 assists per game, which currently leads the NBA.
In the NBA betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Clippers are laying points:
Los Angeles Clippers -6.5
Brooklyn Nets +6.5
Over 235.5 points -110
Under 235.5 points -110
When you take a look at these two teams, perhaps the things that have surprised people about them are the keys to handicapping the matchup. For example, you would think that the Clippers, who have several players who are known among the best at their position defensively, like the aforementioned George and Leonard, in addition to guard Patrick Beverley and center Serge Ibaka, would be a team concentrating greatly on defense. but the fact of the matter, is that they have actually suffered in this area, if you're going by the numbers. While last year they were consistently among the top three or four teams in the NBA's metric of Defensive Rating, this year they are 15th. As a result, they are playing a lot of games over the total: 18 out of 31, in fact.
At the same time, the Clippers are not disappointing anyone on the offensive end. They have shot 48.5% from the field, which is third best, and they are at the top of the list when it comes to shooting 3-pointers (almost 42%) and free throws (84.4%). So even though they are only 27th in the "Pace" category, they are fifth in the league in points per game, at 115.5.
The Nets, upon making the deal for Harden, stripped themselves of much of their depth. and they also lost Spencer Dinwiddie, a very capable scorer off the bench, for the season with an injury. Remember that Caris LeVert, one of the biggest scorers in the bubble, was one of the players that they dealt away, so you're looking at the loss of a lot of offense right there.
But other people have stepped up to fill the vacuum. One of those players is Joe Harris, who is averaging 15.1% and is shooting an incredible 50.7% from three-point range, which makes him the best long-range marksman in the NBA. He had six triples the other night in Brooklyn's 109 - 98 victory over the Lakers.
An overall basis, the Nets lead the league with a 50.2% field goal accuracy rate and they are second to the Clippers with 40.9% from downtown. No team in the league has scored more than their 121.3 points per game. And this is not at all by accident; remember that head coach Steve Nash and D'Antoni put up big numbers for years when they were both in Phoenix. This is a team that wants to step up the pace and play an efficient game in the half-court, and Harden might indeed be the perfect engineer for that.
Brooklyn is 22 - 9 to the "over" this season, and the Clippers have played only two of their last 11 games under the total. We know that this number that has been posted is kind of hefty, but it's not unreasonable because these clubs have shown an inclination to play this kind of game (as they did before, in a 124-120 Nets victory).
So we are going OVER the total in this ESPN-televised matchup.
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