After looking like contenders to give the Knicks a run for their money in the Atlantic Division, the Brooklyn Nets have fallen into a slump after losing their last three games, including a woeful home reverse to Golden State on Friday. It’s no coincidence that the slide has come during the absence of Brook Lopez with a sprained foot, leaving the Nets with an over-reliance on the outside play of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.
Lopez isn’t expected back on Sunday when the Milwaukee Bucks come to the Barclays Center, and it makes life trickier for his team, who are 5th in points allowed (93.6) and only 19th in scoring (96.6) during their 11-7 start. Milwaukee had too much firepower for Charlotte on Friday but they’ve been habitually inconsistent this season with solid victories over the likes of Boston and Chicago while getting blown out by opponents as diverse as Minnesota and New Orleans. But back the Nets to find some relief.
The NBA’s new model for persistent futility is the Toronto Raptors, who face yet another year mired in the doldrums. With Andrea Bargnani looking less like a number one draft pick than ever, it’s probably time for Canada’s team to blow up the house and re-build. It might also be the time to bet against the Raptors every night.
The league’s worst defence were routed by 32 by Utah two days ago and they’ll have an impossible task stopping the LA Clippers on Sunday, who are averaging 101.5 points per game. The Clips have won four straight games with Jamal Crawford continuing his career revival. Even on a handicap, back LA to make the Raptors extinct, with Blake Griffin good value at 1.85 to score over 19 points.
On the other side of Los Angeles, however, things ain’t so rosy. The Lakers are only third in the Pacific Division and despite optimism from Kobe Bryant about their prospects, they looked an improbable contender as Oklahoma City cruised to a 114-108 win on Friday. Utah come to Staples on Sunday and although the Jazz aren’t spectacular, they have the kind of efficient line-up that will give the Lakers nightmares and are a good shout to win in regulation.
Bet of the day: Take Utah to beat the Lakers.