On the Lookout: Surging Nets take on full-strength Clippers

Published February 21, 2021, 6:00 PMMiguel Flores

Still without KD, the Nets hope to extend their five-game win streak as they face the Clippers led by returning Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

If a band were missing its vocalist, would they still put on a great show? Would you watch an Eraserheads reunion without Ely Buendia? Probably not.

But the Brooklyn Nets (19-14), despite missing their front man in Kevin Durant, are still must-watch basketball. The Nets are 4-0 in their ongoing trip across the Pacific Division, picking up wins over the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers sans KD, and even coming back from a 20-point deficit versus the Phoenix Suns without Kyrie Irving as well.

Durant will still be watching from the sidelines when the Nets close out their West Coast swing against the Los Angeles Clippers (22-9) tomorrow at 9:00 AM on One Sports. No Slim Reaper but KD the meme lord will definitely make an appearance.

With only Irving and James Harden in tow, the Nets continue to overwhelm their opponents offensively. Over their last four games, they averaged 20.2 made 3-pointers on a 49.1 percent clip. The 3s did not just come from Harden and Irving, as role players like Joe Harris, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Jeff Green have been finding their range and taking advantage of the open shots created by their stars.

The 3s will most likely continue to fly versus the Clippers, who have surprisingly been a middling defensive team and just as bad as Brooklyn at giving up the long ball.

The Clippers are coming off a rousing win over the best team in the league, the Utah Jazz, which was the first game back for their star duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, both of whom missed the last two weeks due to injuries.

The Clippers already lost a close game to the Nets in Brooklyn, 124-120, but that was with Brooklyn’s Big 3 taking turns in the endgame to put them away. Without KD, the Clippers are going to have an easier time matching their best defenders to Brooklyn's main threats. Leonard and George, who was having a career year before his foot injury, will also have an easier time offensively as most of the Nets’ swingmen are defensively-challenged.

A win would mean a lot for both teams. The Nets need every victory they can get to catch up to the Philadelphia 76ers (20-10). The Clippers, on the other hand, are in a prime position to snatch the top spot in the West with the Lakers missing Anthony Davis and the Jazz (24-6) cooling off.

Also, watch out for the Sixers taking on the Toronto Raptors (15-15) at 8:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines.

The Raptors have been resurgent lately, anchored by solid performances from Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell. They just got OG Anunoby back from injury so their recent small-ball excursions could mess up Philly's renewed controlled tempo style.

However, Joel Embiid is coming off a 50-point masterpiece against the Bulls. Looking at Toronto's center lineup, there's not a lot of muscle to keep Embiid from dominating.