Free NBA Picks: Nets at Clippers Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/15/2013
Since I won't get much of a chance to find an interesting game involving the Philadelphia 76ers or New Orleans Pelicans this year, I was leaning toward previewing Saturday's matchup between those two teams. It's the first meeting since the clubs had a big trade in this year's draft, with Philly sending Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and the Pels' first-round pick this season -- that trade is looking like a tremendous one for the Sixers even though Noel hasn't played this season and probably won't. The 2014 draft looks ridiculously good, and the Sixers clearly have their point guard of the future in rookie Michael-Carter Williams. He's your ROY favorite right now but sat out Wednesday with an injury and if iffy for Saturday. Thus, I steered clear of this game because of his unsure status and no early line.
So it's back to the Clippers again as they welcome the vastly-disappointing Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night in what I suppose could be an NBA Finals preview -- +5000 at Sportsbook.ag -- but sure doesn't look likely at the moment with how the Nets are struggling. Of course, this will be the first time that Brooklyn's two big offseason additions, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, will face their former coach, Doc Rivers. They are all friends, I am sure, but no doubt would love nothing more than to beat the others' brains out -- it's their competitive nature.
Nets at Clippers Betting Story Lines
Brooklyn entered Friday night's game in Phoenix with a 2-5 record and loser of three straight. How does a team with all-stars at every spot in the starting five (and a few on the bench) start 2-5? And it's not like the Nets have been playing a killer schedule. Yes, they beat the Heat but have been walloped by the same 107-86 score at Orlando and at Sacramento, the latter on Wednesday night. Those are two of the worst teams in the NBA. Really the only quality loss thus far was last Saturday against Indiana. The only other club the Nets have beaten other than Miami was Utah, the worst team in the league so far.
There figured to be a bit of a learning curve under new head coach Jason Kidd, who was playing last year and had never coached in his life. I could see a very young team responding and looking up to Kidd, but how does he deal with peers like KG and Pierce? According to ESPN, in 74 minutes playing together over the first seven games of the season, Brooklyn's starting five of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, KG and Brook Lopez is being outscored by six points per 100 possessions (101.5-95.5). What makes it more worrisome is the Nets are 0-5 in games in which they have been outscored in the third quarter. Obviously, halftime is when a coach should be making some adjustments, although it's not like football in that you can’t change too much.
Lopez is playing at an all-star level, averaging 19.6 points, shooting .576 from the field, 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. His player efficiency rating of 27.19 is fourth in the NBA (Kevin Love No. 1 at 30.77). Pierce, Johnson and Williams -- who is turning the ball over on a whopping 14.5 percent of his possessions -- have been below average, and Garnett has been flat-out terrible. He's averaging 6.0 points on .306 shooting from the field and 6.9 rebounds. Perhaps the team misses Andrei Kirilenko more than expected. The reserve swingman has been limited to just 13.3 minutes per game in his four outings due to back spasms and isn't with the team on this West Coast trip. Kirilenko is never going to score a ton for you but remains an excellent defender. And I'm sure he's owner Mikhail Prokhorov's favorite player. By the way, Prokhorov recently said his promise to be married if the Nets don't win a title by 2015 was just a joke. Is he losing faith too?
Maybe it's a good thing the Clippers didn't give up DeAndre Jordan to get Garnett in that proposed packaged deal with Rivers that the NBA nixed. Rivers is getting the best of out of Jordan, who is also playing at an all-star level. He's averaging 11.8 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals, all career highs. He still makes Dwight Howard look like Larry Bird at the free-throw line, so the Clips pretty much have to bench Jordan near the end of close games.
L.A., which leads the league in scoring but is 29th in points allowed, has won three straight games, all against West contenders Houston, Minnesota and Oklahoma City. The Clips didn't score less than 107 in any of them. Not coincidentally, they didn't score more than 97 in the previous two games and lost both of them. Wednesday's Thunder game was somewhat notable for the little tussle that Matt Barnes got in, then he appeared to throw some "soft" teammates under the bus with a racially-inappropriate tweet, but he won't be suspended for it and instead is $25,000 lighter in the wallet.
Nets at Clippers NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, the Clippers opened as nine-point favorites with a total of 203.5. All Nets trends entering Friday: Brooklyn is 2-5 ATS (0-4 on road) and 3-4 “over/under” (1-3 on road). Los Angeles is 6-3 ATS (3-1 at home) and 6-3 over/under (4-0 at home). Brooklyn is 1-5 ATS in its past six Saturday games. The Clippers are 9-4 ATS in their past 13 against the Eastern Conference. The over is 6-2 in the Nets' past eight in the second of a back-to-back. The over is 17-5 in the Clips' past 22 home games. The Nets are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 6-1 in the past seven in L.A.
Free NBA Picks: Nets at Clippers Betting Predictions
The Clippers have been off since Wednesday so should be plenty fresh, while the Nets will have the overnight travel. The way Williams is playing, Chris Paul -- probably No. 2 in early MVP considerations behind Kevin Love -- should eat his lunch. Paul has had double-digit points and assists in every game so far. He, Magic Johnson and John Stockton are the only players to score 10 or more points and dish out 10 or more assists in the first nine games of a season. Still, I think that the Nets will get up for this game and facing Rivers. They won't win but should cover. Take the over.
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