Nets vs. Pelicans NBA Preview

 Bruce Brown #1 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half.  Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Bruce Brown #1 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles during the first half. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

 

Losing Kevin Durant (again) can help the Brooklyn Nets beat the NBA odds this Tuesday when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

Brooklyn Nets vs. New Orleans Pelicans

at Smoothie King Center

 

Here we go again. This has been the most brutal NBA season ever, with star players getting hurt left and right – not to mention all those games lost to COVID-19 protocols. No team has seen more players go missing than the Brooklyn Nets (38-19 SU, 28-29 ATS), although they kind of asked for it when they signed Kevin Durant two summers ago; he suffered a left thigh contusion on Sunday, and as we go to press, he’s just been ruled out for Tuesday’s road game versus the New Orleans Pelicans. As it happens, the Pelicans (25-32 SU and ATS) have lost the fewest man-games to injury of anyone in the league thus far. But they don’t have guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (ankle) or swingman Josh Hart (thumb) at the moment, and they’re 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS since they lost both players in early April. Given how likely the betting public is to freak out about Durant, the Nets should be the right choice for your NBA picks, having opened as 2-point road dogs at FanDuel.

7-Down

I should point out that Durant is one of seven players the Nets will be missing for this matchup. Here are the other six: James Harden (hamstring) Tyler Johnson (knee) Chris Chiozza (hand) Spencer Dinwiddie (knee) Nic Claxton (protocols) Reggie Perry (protocols) On top of that, LaMarcus Aldridge was forced into retirement last Thursday after he experienced an irregular heartbeat during Brooklyn’s 126-101 loss to the L.A. Lakers (+11.5 away) on April 10. Aldridge (0.137 Win Shares/48 minutes at Basketball Reference) had played quite well for the Nets after securing his contract buyout from the San Antonio Spurs; losing both him and Claxton (0.148 WS/48) leaves Brooklyn’s frontcourt vulnerable at a critical moment in the 2020-21 campaign.

4 On The Floor

That’s unless you believe in the power of power forward Alize Johnson (0.214 WS/48). Johnson has been a godsend for Brooklyn since they snapped him up from the Raptors 905 after a strong G-League performance. However, Johnson has also played just 11.5 minutes per game off the bench. How will he handle a larger workload? For that matter, how will head coach Steve Nash distribute those minutes at the 4-spot among Johnson, Blake Griffin (0.122 WS/48) and Jeff Green

(0.093 WS/48)? At least Nash has options. Stan Van Gundy has some tougher choices to make for the Pelicans backcourt; they did have Lonzo Ball (hip) back in the fold for the last two games, joining Eric Bledsoe in the starting lineup, but New Orleans dropped both SU and ATS in overtime as small road dogs on the NBA odds board. Behind Ball and Bledsoe on the depth chart are rookie point guard Kira Lewis Jr. and a pair of wings on two-way contracts, Naji Marshall and James Nunnally – Marshall (0.094 WS/48) being the only bright spot among the three. Isaiah Thomas (minus-0.194 WS/48) was not signed to a second 10-day contract, mercifully enough. Bet accordingly, and enjoy the game.

NBA pick: Nets +2 (–110) at FanDue

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