The Brooklyn Nets, in the midst of a five-game losing streak, will face the Los Angeles Clippers for the first time this season on Tuesday with the hopes of gathering some momentum. January and February haven’t been kind to Brooklyn, and they’ve lost nine of their last 10, whereas the Clippers have gone 5-5 over that same stretch of games. Should the Nets snap their skid and pull out a victory on Monday night, they’ll secure their 20th win of the campaign, matching their total from last season.
Los Angeles hasn’t shown any ill effects from the Blake Griffin trade, and the Tobias Harris-Danilo Gallinari-Lou Williams trio has been quite capable since coming together. They’re going to be the difference makers on the offensive end, but the Clippers have played balanced basketball in recent games and have improved their defense considerably since the start of the campaign.
Keep Up The High Three-Point Rate
When a team is as jumpshot-centric as the Nets, the offense will either be potent or nauseating depending on their accuracy. It’s a gift and a curse. During Brooklyn’s five-game losing streak, they lead the NBA with an average of 40.6 triples attempted a night, but they’re converting at a rate of 35.5 percent. That clip isn’t as high as most would like, but it’s better than hanging around the 32 or 33 percent mark.
The reason Brooklyn needs to keep up the pressure on the perimeter is that Los Angeles hasn’t defended that area particularly well. Over their last five contests, the Clippers have allowed a conversion rate of 37.6 a night and give up, on average, 13.0 made threes a night, which is the fourth-highest total during that span.
This strategy is similar to what happened when the Nets and Rockets matched up. Brooklyn lost that game 123-113 but made 16 of their 35 threes. The Clippers, much like Houston, give up a large chunk of their points from the perimeter but keep the interior defense much tighter. Regarding overall field goal percentage, Los Angeles has the second-lowest mark for February (41.4 percent).
Let Allen Crabbe Feast
Allen Crabbe has been the Brooklyn Nets most consistent perimeter option for the last few games. He’s had 34 and 28-point performances in back-to-back games against the Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans, and he’s gone 14-of-32 from downtown in those meetings. That screams one thing — “feed me!” Of course, those looks have to be organic.
The Nets’ offense is slowly starting to regain its potency. This month, they’re up to 108.0 points a night, 2.5 points above their season average. Crabbe has contributed to that, but so has Spencer Dinwiddie. His playmaking has been invaluable of late; over his last five games, he’s averaging 9.8 assists and just 1.8 turnovers a night. His decision-making has a direct impact on Crabbe (and the other shooters), but you shouldn’t worry about him.
D’Angelo Russell is struggling to score, and Kenny Atkinson is doing his best to work him in with the starters. There were times against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday when Russell settled for a rainbow three over the outstretched arms of whoever. In that instance, if someone like Crabbe has the hot hand, it’s vital to move the ball and look for them. That will only open things up for Russell and the other ball handlers.
Date: Monday, February 12, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET