Just one night after facing his old team in Boston, Doc Rivers gets to go up against the two future Hall-of-Famers (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce) he coached to a championship in 2008 – the franchise’s first since 1986. Can the Los Angeles Clippers (15-8) get one more “emotional” victory for their coach? Or will the return of Brook Lopez and Deron Williams to the Brooklyn Nets (7-14) lineup be too much for the Clippers to handle?
AccuScore has the Clippers as solid 68.4 percent favorites to win Thursday night versus the Nets. The average score after 10,000 simulations is 102-95, with the Clippers having a 62.4 percent chance of covering the -2 spread. According to the data, the only way for Brooklyn to win this game will be to keep their turnovers to a minimum. Turning the ball over gives Los Angeles extra opportunities in the fast break – the complete opposite of what a team wants to do against these Clippers. The Clippers are No. 8 in the NBA in fast break points (15.9 points per game); they have upped their average to 21 in the past three games on the current road trip. Brooklyn is No. 15 in the league in opponents fast break points (13 points per game); they have improved their transition defense lately, however, giving up an average of just 9 fastbreak points per game in the last three games.
Blake Griffin: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block
Chris Paul: 18 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Jamal Crawford: 18 points (2-5 3PM)
Brook Lopez: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks
Deron Williams: 15 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal
Joe Johnson: 14 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds
What to Watch for
In the 19 games in which Chris Paul and Deron Williams have faced off against one another, Paul is just 5-14. Of course, a good portion of these games occurred when Paul was with New Orleans and Williams with Utah. Deron Williams has been a shell of his former self the past two seasons, and is still struggling to consistently stay on the court due to nagging injuries. Williams did return earlier this week against Boston and dropped 25 points to help get his team its first winning streak of the season. With Brooklyn starting to get their actual rotation back in shape, Thursday’s game will be a nice litmus test for the Nets to see how competitive this roster can be. Keep an eye on the Paul-Williams matchup; Paul is easily the better player, but a player like Williams has much to prove and plenty of talent to do it with.
I expect this game to be much more competitive than AccuScore expects it to be. Brooklyn’s star players have been injured for a majority of the season, and projecting how their lineups will do is far less accurate than that of most other teams. Keep in mind – it’s a back-to-back on the road for the Clippers as well. Brooklyn’s lack of depth will ultimately be the deciding factor: Clippers by 4, 99-95.
Photo Credit: Front Office News
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