It’s the battle between the fourth place teams on Saturday night as the Los Angeles Clippers play host to the Brooklyn Nets. The Clippers have their division locked up, but are in a serious three-way battle with a pair of hot teams in the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies to secure home court advantage in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Nets are hot on the tail of the New York Knicks as they hunt down the Atlantic division crown.
Los Angeles have been consistently inconsistent over the past month. Since a four-game winning streak was ended on March 3 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers are 4-4 alternating wins and losses.
Still, there was a feeling that they turned something of a corner on Wednesday in the blowout victory against Philadelphia. Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Willie Green shared scoring, while Jamal Crawford’s value and importance coming off the bench could hardly have been better demonstrated making a few important shots.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn picked up victories over the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks to start an eight-game road trip. The Nets’ road trip will probably go a long way to deciding their fate in terms of the Atlantic division race and their final seeding in the NBA playoffs.
Brooklyn’s road form has been interesting all year long. They have an 8-3 record in road games in the past two months and have picked up victories against tough opponents in Dallas, the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers. There just seems to be a little bit of extra confidence in the play of some of this team’s stars on the road, in particular the guards Williams and Joe Johnson.
Both of these teams have spent a lot of money to try and achieve success in recent seasons. Ultimately their performance at this stage of the year will determine how successful that spending was.
Betting Preview: LA Clippers (-8.5) vs. Brooklyn
The betting line here is pretty understandable given the explosiveness of the Los Angeles Clippers and especially considering their absolute demolition of the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. They should be well rested and ready to make a serious statement in a big game on Saturday night. I wouldn’t bet against LA winning this one, but the 8.5 points spread is extremely generous against a Brooklyn team that has played pretty well of late. Here’s three reasons you should pick against the spread:
1) The Clippers haven’t won consecutive games in March for several reasons and injuries are a part of that. Eric Bledsoe and Chauncy Billups are both highly questionable to feature in this game, which means that the back court will once again be a little thin for LA.
2) LA may have piled on the points against Philadelphia, but Brooklyn’s defense is a different kettle of fish. The Nets are one of the better defenses in the NBA and it has really shown through in the way that they play successfully on the road.
3) Deron Williams is as good as any point guard in the game as a scorer when he is on his game. The problem for the Nets star is getting on his game. That’s not a problem right now for the 28-year old who has 31 points in each of his last two outings and is averaging 23.2 points per game over the past 17 games compared with his season average of 18.2 points per game.
The Pick: Nets (+8.5) [5dimes.eu]
Writer Record Against the Spread: 6-3