Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers stopped the red-hot Jazz Friday. How will they fare against the Nets Sunday? (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The L.A. Clippers (22-9) host the Brooklyn Nets (19-12) Sunday, Feb. 21
- The Nets beat the Lakers Thursday and the Clippers upended the Jazz Friday
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The Los Angeles Clippers (22-9), who just snapped Utah’s nine-game winning streak, host the Brooklyn Nets (19-12) Sunday, Feb. 21 in L.A. Tip is set for 8pm ET at Staples Center.
Steve Nash’s squad continued its mastery over good teams and the Western Conference Thursday in a 109-98 victory against the defending champion Lakers. James Harden had 23 point in the win, the team’s fifth straight. It also pushed Brooklyn’s mark 10-1 against .500-or-better teams this season and was the Nets’ seventh straight victory against the Western Conference.
Meantime, both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George returned from injuries Friday to help L.A. beat Utah 116-112. The Jazz — owners of the NBA’s best record — had won 20 of their previous 21 before the loss.
Now, Ty Lue’s club is favored to slay another giant Sunday.
Nets vs Clippers Odds
|Nets||+5 (-110)||+176||Ov 240 (-110)|
|Clippers||-5 (-110)||-210||Un 240 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 20 at FanDuel
The last four of Brooklyn’s five straight wins have come during its current five-game road swing that wraps up against L.A. The Nets had already knocked off a pair of potential playoff teams in the Warriors and Suns prior to Thursday’s 11-point victory against the Purple and Gold.
Sure, the Lakers were without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder. But the Nets were without Kevin Durant. Nash still has Kyrie Irving and Harden, who has flourished with his new team.
NBA top 3 points per possession on isolation possessions;
1. Kyrie Irving – 1.29
2. Kevin Durant – 1.25
3. James Harden – 1.25
BROOKLYN ‘ISO’ NETS. pic.twitter.com/NL7wkGA3j5
— Qweku (@Blue_Rockett) February 20, 2021
The 2018 NBA MVP is doing just fine. A lot was made of Harden’s move to the Nets and how he would be able to cope without the ball as much. But the shooting guard is currently making the Nets experiment work. He is averaging 24.2 points and a career-high 11.7 assists as well as shooting 50% from the field, a personal best. Harden thrives in big matchups, so look for the L.A. native to have another big game Sunday.
While the Nets may not have their full arsenal, the Clippers will. Leonard returned Friday after missing the previous three games due to a left leg contusion, while George was back after seven games with an injured toe. The pair combined for 44 against the red-hot Jazz, a team the Clippers had lost to by 18 on Wednesday.
Leonard put up 33 points in a 124-120 loss to Brooklyn Feb. 2. Rest assured, he’ll be motivated to avenge that loss and take down the trendy pick to win the East.
When the guy they call “The Claw” is on the court, his all-around game makes him one of the top-5 players in the league. Judging by Friday’s performance, which also included two critical offensive rebounds in the final minute, Leonard is in peak form.
Guarding Kawhi will be Joe Harris, who is pretty darn good in his own right. The 2019 3-Point Contest champ is shooting a league-high 50.7% from behind the arc. Even more impressive is his NBA-leading field goal effectiveness, which currently stands at a staggering 69.4%. How will guarding Harris affect Leonard?
There are only a handful of players in the league who can challenge Harden defensively. George is one of them.
Paul George is just an absurd combination of size, shot making, defense, passing, and ball handling.
Him taking a leap as a playmaker really changes LAC’s playoff chances in a material way.
This was so damn cold. pic.twitter.com/shWY9Svife
— Justin W. (@LAClippersFilm) February 15, 2021
PG-13 says he hasn’t played enough games this season to merit an All-Star selection. But maybe the motivated star — who is averaging much-improved numbers from last season and shooting over 50% from the field — will fuel George even more.
There are plenty more plus-defenders on Lue’s roster, starting with Patrick Beverley. Of course, Pat Bev will draw one of the hardest guards in the league Sunday in Irving — but Beverly is the type of player who welcomes challenges.
He was key in his defense of Donovan Mitchell Friday, who was effusive in his praise of the polarizing NBA vet. Beverly can knock down some big shots, too.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 20, 2021
This game should be high-scoring. The previous tilt went for 244 points. But with the total set at 240, it’s a little too high for me. That has me on the Clippers in this spot. They’re better defensively than the Nets and have the deeper roster right now.
The pick: Clippers -5 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.