Nets vs. Clippers NBA Preview

James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets drives the ball. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP
James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets drives the ball. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

No Durant? No problem. The Nets are on a five-game winning streak and still a solid underdog against the Clippers. Here’s the best bet.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Sunday, February 21, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at STAPLES Center

The Nets won’t be at full strength for yet another game on the road against the Clippers. Kevin Durant will likely sit out with a strained hamstring for the fourth straight game. Meanwhile, the Clippers have returned Kawhi Leonard and are now back to full strength.

The Clippers full strength helped knock off the surging hot Utah Jazz on February 19, 116-112. The Nets are scoring 121.3 points per game but are also allowing 117.3 points per game. They’re shooting 50.2 percent from the field, which is astonishing, and they’ve won five straight games with Durant unable to play. The Nets have the best offense in the NBA and they’re not even at full strength.

They’re scoring 120.1 points per 100 possessions and have an effective field goal percentage of 59.5 percent. Both are the top numbers in the NBA on offense this season. The Nets will turn the ball over 14.5 percent of the time and have struggled on the offensive glass.

The good news is that this team rarely misses from the field. They’re also fourth in foul shooting rate, getting a solid amount of points from the line per game. The Nets are led by newly acquired guard James Harden who is averaging 24.2 points per game along with 8.2 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game. Kyrie Irving has been steady for Brooklyn as well with 27.7 points along with 5.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. The absence of Durant has hurt but the Nets are not having any trouble scoring the basketball.

Defense has been a problem for this team. The Nets are allowing 114.3 points per 100 possessions this season and an effective field goal percentage of 53.5 percent. Brooklyn rarely forces turnovers and haven’t been great at limiting offensive rebounds this season, although the Clippers aren’t a huge threat on the glass in the first place. The Clippers are the second best offense in the league, averaging 119.8 points per 100 possessions and have an effective field goal percentage of 57.3 percent. The Clippers have done well protecting the basketball, limiting turnovers to just 13.1 percent. While offensive rebounds don’t happen often, against the Nets, we might see more of them.

The Clippers are led by Kawhi Leonard who averages 26.8 points per game along with 5.8 rebounds and five assists per game. Paul George shut down all the doubters this season averaging 23.9 points and 6.2 rebounds along with 5.4 assists. Defensively, the Clippers will have a challenge against the Nets. They’re allowing 112.8 points per 100 possessions and also allowing an effective field goal percentage of 54.3 percent.

Both of those numbers are below the average, which is concerning for the Clippers at this point. They might see some turnovers fall in their lap from this Nets team that isn’t careful with the ball. The Clippers should also be able to do a solid job limiting offensive rebounds and should win the rebounding battle throughout the night.

Los Angeles has done well keeping teams off the foul line. It’ll be hard to do this against the Nets who have been terrific at getting to the line this season. That could be the difference of the game. The Nets show up against high-tier teams and forget to show up against the lower-tier teams. This is a game against the Clippers, on the road, on EPN and they’re solid underdogs in a game they can seriously win outright. I’ll take the Nets against the spread here.

NBA Pick: Netss +5.5 (-110) at Bet 365 

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