The Brooklyn Nets are arguably the NBA's worst team even when they have their full complement of players. But on Tuesday in Toronto, the Nets won't have their best guy in center Brook Lopez.
The Nets actually have less than nothing to play for this season. You might think at least potentially the No. 1 draft pick in 2017, but Brooklyn has to swap picks with the Boston Celtics as more payment for the disastrous Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade years back. So it doesn't even benefit the Nets to tank.
They enter Tuesday at 7-19 overall, better than only the Philadelphia 76ers in the East. The Nets are a solid 14-10-2 ATS on NBA odds, however. They opened as 14-point underdogs on NBA picks for tonight's game in Toronto, but that number has risen to as high as 15.5 at some of SBR Forum's best sportsbooks with the news that Lopez will be rested. This will be the third game the team has simply rested its center. Lopez is one of the better true centers in the NBA, averaging 20.3 points and 5.4 rebounds. He has played 30-plus minutes and scored 20-plus points in each of his last four games.
Luis Scola likely starts for him Tuesday. He averaged 8.7 points and made a career-high 65 three-pointers in 76 regular season games (all starts) last year for Toronto. Lopez didn't even make the trip to Toronto on Monday after coming close to a triple-double with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, plus four blocked shots, in a 108-107 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. Tuesday starts a stretch of three games in four nights and the Nets have decided to save Lopez for the Warriors on Thursday night in Brooklyn and the reigning NBA champion Cavaliers on Friday night in Cleveland.
The Nets have covered five of their past eight trips to Toronto on NBA picks, but since Nov. 28 the Raptors lead the NBA with five wins by at least 20 points. Toronto swept Brooklyn last year.