Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to November 26 inclusive:
You read that right: Brooklyn won a game. Granted, it was 102-100 against the Toronto Raptors (–6.5 at home), but a win is a win. The Nets improved to 4-10 SU and 5-9 ATS with Tuesday’s result, climbing out of the Atlantic Division basement in the process. Next up: the Los Angeles Lakers (7-8 SU, 9-5-1 ATS), who also got paid on Tuesday – although it was in a 116-111 loss to the Washington Wizards (–5.5 at home). The early NBA odds have Brooklyn favored by 2.5 points at home with a total of 199.
It’s easy to joke about the Nets these days, but in my humble opinion, it’s only a matter of time before they work things out. And Tuesday’s game was a step in the right direction. Despite missing both PG Deron Williams (13.9 points, 9.0 assists per 36 minutes) and center Brook Lopez (24.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.2 blocks/36), Brooklyn went into Toronto with a 28 percent chance to win (according to Basketball Reference) and got the job done.
It helps when you have talented reserves like big man Andray Blatche (24 points, five rebounds versus the Raps) and PG Shaun Livingston (five points, seven assists in 29 minutes) ready to step up. It also helps when the Toronto bench is very thin on point guards. But the Nets would love to see Lopez (ankle) and guard Jason Terry (knee) come off the injured list for Wednesday’s game. Both are listed as day-to-day; so is Williams, although it’s less likely that he’ll return to face the Lakers. Keep a very close eye on the injury reports leading up to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Keep an eye on the weather report while you’re at it. Winter Storm Boreas has swept across the United States, reaching the Great Lakes on Tuesday and mixing with one of those delicious Canadian cold fronts. The storm was expected to envelop the East Coast by Wednesday morning. It’s already taxing enough for the Nets to hop back and forth across the border – at least the Lakers only had to travel north from D.C.
This is where those fresh legs would really help Brooklyn out. The Lakers will be playing the second of back-to-back games as well, but they’ve only played four times since Nov. 15, while the Nets have taken the floor six times. Los Angeles has injury and age concerns of its own, but the roster has plenty of young and athletic players to carry the load. That includes PG Jordan Farmar (15.4 points, 8.7 assists/36), who should cause the depleted Brooklyn bench some headaches. Center Chris Kaman (17.2 points, 11.1 boards/36) could also make his return after missing three games with a sore back.
Given the unusual circumstances surrounding Wednesday’s game, it might be prudent to jump on the Total to join our NBA picks for this matchup. Tired legs and depleted rosters should equal plenty of missed shots, and while the Lakers normally run one of the fastest offenses in the league (100.8 possessions per game, No. 4 overall) under head coach Mike D’Antoni, Brooklyn is one of the NBA’s slowpokes at 96.0 possessions per game (No. 21).
I should also note that the last six meetings between these two teams have all gone UNDER what the sportsbooks posted as the total, stretching back to 2009, and the biggest combined score any of those games reached was 191 points. That was with Kobe Bryant in the lineup. Of course, Bryant could surprise us at any time and suit up. I suspect he’ll wait a while longer.
NBA Pick: Take UNDER 200 (–108) at SBOBET