We’ve got an interesting matchup today between two teams on opposite ends of the NBA spectrum. The Clippers are gearing up for a run at the NBA title. The Nets are trying to see what they have for next season with so many of their rotation players not in the Orlando bubble.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Sunday, August 8th, 2020 – 9:00 PM EDT at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, FL
Nets Have Been Overachieving in Orlando
The Brooklyn Nets have no chance of winning an NBA title until Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Heading into Orlando, most experts picked them to be the worst team in the bubble. Without Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince and DeAndre Jordan to go along with their two superstars, we didn’t even know who was playing.
Fast forward five games and the Nets are 3-2 after 5 games and have clinched their spot in the playoffs. Interim head coach Jacques Vaughn has definitely enhanced his resume the way he has these guys playing right now. I doubt he'll still be the coach next year (unless that's what KD and Kyrie want) but he seems like he is building up his resume to get a second chance (he was the head coach in Orlando from 2012-15) at a head coaching job.
Of all the players on display, the Nets have to be really excited about the progress of Jarrett Allen. Through 4 games (he missed the Milwaukee game), the young big man is averaging 16 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists. The assists really stand out because the truth is, when the Nets are at full strength, he will not be a primary option on offense. Here in Orlando, he has the opportunity to take more shots and "get his" as they say. Instead, he's choosing to make the correct basketball play. While he might have lost his starting spot to DeAndre Jordan, it's clear that Allen is the starting center for this team moving forward. Other than Allen, Joe Harris has also looked great in these games. Of all the players on display, Harris is the one that fits best with KD and Kyrie. We already knew what he could do but it's still good to see him perform under these circumstances.
Clippers Depth Makes Them a Real Threat
We know who the Clippers top 7-8 players make them one of the teams expected to compete for an NBA title. What we're seeing here in the Orlando bubble is that the Clippers might actually be 12 deep. In yesterday's game against Portland, the Clippers ended the game with this lineup; Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green, Patrick Patterson, Rodney McGruder, and Terance Mann. Most of these guys will not get playing time once the playoffs start but at least Doc Rivers knows he can call on them in an emergency situation.
The Clippers are usually compared to their cross town rivals the Lakers and if that's going to the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers have to be worried about what they saw last night. I expect to see something very similar in today's game, especially considering the opponent. There is no reason for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to play significant minutes. Doc Rivers is using these games wisely in the sense that the result is secondary. The value of these games moving forward for Rivers and his team is to get his stars’ reps and see who else on the rotation can actually give him relief minutes in the playoffs if he needs to switch things up.
The NBA odds for this game have the total at 226.5 despite the fact that both teams are averaging 118 points per game (Nets are averaging 117.8). I think that because Jarrett Allen is sitting out the game, it will force Brooklyn to play much faster than usual. So far in the bubble, the Nets are playing at the 3rd fastest pace at 104.4.
My prediction is we'll see something similar to the Milwaukee game which Allen did not play in. That game was played at a pace of 107.5 which helped them get a win over the mighty Bucks. The other reason I'm taking the over is the Nets defense. Even with Allen in the lineup, their defense rating in the bubble is 116.2 which ranks 18th out of 22 teams. Allen is their only legit rim protector and it could be a virtual layup line for the Clippers if they get things rolling. I expect a high scoring game which is why I'm looking at the odds and I'm taking the Over 226.5 (-110) at Bovada (Visit our Bovada Review).