It’s been an awful year for the Brooklyn Nets, but at least they’re getting healthy again. They’ll need all hands on deck with the visiting Los Angeles Clippers laying three points on the NBA odds.
Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 10 inclusive:
We’ve been having a lot of fun with the Brooklyn Nets (7-14 SU, 8-13 ATS). They’ve been very entertaining in their awfulness, especially head coach Jason Kidd, who plays a very convincing comedy villain. But at some point, the fun has to stop. There’s too much talent on this Nets team, and once those injured players get back into the lineup, Brooklyn needs to be taken seriously.
That time may have arrived. PG Deron Williams and SF Paul Pierce returned to action Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics, and Williams was particularly effective, putting up 25 points and seven assists in a 104-96 victory. That’s back-to-back wins for the Nets as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Clippers; Thursday’s NBA odds have Brooklyn getting three points at home. Is it enough?
There are so many big-name players on the Nets roster that it’s easy to forget about any particular individual. So let’s look again at Williams. This is one of the very best point guards in the league, a five-time All-Star and a leader on the court. His PER is down to 15.3 this year, well below the 20.3 PER Williams posted last year, but provided his ankle and the rest of him remain healthy, that figure should only rise. Tuesday’s performance was a very good start.
I’m a little less confident about what Pierce (12.1 PER) can provide at age 36. He came off the bench against his former team and missed all three of his field-goal attempts, although Pierce did manage seven rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes. It remains to be seen whether Pierce will continue to play a reserve role going forward, but somebody has to do it. At least Brooklyn has a viable bench again, and it will get better when guard Jason Terry (knee) and SF Andrei Kirilenko (back) come off the injured list.
I’m Sorry Mr. Jackson
The Clippers were involved in a hard-fought contest against the Celtics Wednesday night, eventually winning 96-88 as 5-point road favorites. That’s one more for the good guys. Following up on the Stephen Jackson situation, he ended up playing 12 minutes and missing all three of his trey attempts to finish the night with zeroes across the board. It’s a small sample size, but not an encouraging one for a team that’s missing J.J. Redick (broken hand), Matt Barnes (torn retina) and Reggie Bullock (sprained ankle) on the wings.
It’s an issue for a Clippers team with designs on the NBA title, but a relatively small issue when dealing with the lesser lights of the Eastern Conference. PG Chris Paul (27.0 PER) continued his MVP-quality campaign with 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and a pair of steals against Boston. PF Blake Griffin (20.5 PER) dished out four assists to go with his 18 points and seven boards. And SG Jamal Crawford (15.7 PER) gave the Clips plenty of spacing with 21 points, sinking a late pair of 3-pointers to secure the payday for L.A.
Now we’ll see if the Clippers can keep up the intensity on zero days of rest. They’ve done remarkably well in this situation, going 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS this year, with all but one of those games happening away from Staples Center. Young legs, deep bench. Griffin (42 minutes) was the only Clipper to play more than 37 minutes against the Celtics, so they should have enough left in the gas tank for Thursday’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT). I’ll follow them this time, but again, watch out for those Nets. No joke.NBA Pick: Take the Clippers –3 (–104) at SBOBET