After a bright start to the NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets are now in a major slump. And to make matters worse, they won’t have superstar Kevin Durant to help them get out of it as he begins a seven-day spell on the sidelines due to a COVID-related quarantine.
Meanwhile, three of the top teams in the West – the Lakers, Nuggets, and Clippers – will all be in action against injury-hit opponents, whose NBA 2021 betting odds of winning without their star players are not great.
Here is SBOTOP’s quick breakdown of all the things you need to know about the five games on the NBA schedule.
Utah Jazz @ Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are not in a good spot right now. After looking like potential title contenders with two blowout wins to start the season, they have lost four of their last five games.
They already lost starting guard Spencer Dinwiddie for virtually the entire year due to a knee injury. And now, there’s more bad NBA 2021 news as they will be without superstar Kevin Durant, who will undergo a seven-day quarantine after exposure to a COVID-positive person and will likely miss their next four games.
The pressure will now be on Kyrie Irving to carry the Nets over the next few games, beginning with their matchup against Utah.
The Jazz are coming off two big wins against the Clippers and Spurs, whom they trounced by 21 points in San Antonio. Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic, who have struggled shooting the ball early on, were both on fire from beyond the arc as they combined to go 11-of-16.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Memphis Grizzlies
The Lakers are rolling at the moment. They’ve now won three games in a row — and five of their last six — after handling the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies 108-94 in Memphis the day before.
LeBron James is playing far from his best basketball, but he is still casually putting up 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game.
The Grizzlies put up a good fight through three quarters in their first game against the Lakers, but LA eventually pulled away in the fourth.
Despite the best efforts of Kyle Anderson, the Grizzlies just don’t have enough offensive firepower at the moment with both Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. out and will struggle to slow down the streaking Lakers.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Denver Nuggets
Things are not looking good in Minnesota. The Timberwolves have been simply awful since Karl-Anthony Towns went down with a wrist injury. They have lost each of their last four games without their star big man by an average of 26 points per game.
Malik Beasley did his best to keep the Wolves competitive as he had 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in their most recent game against his old team, the Nuggets. But Denver outscored Minnesota by 16 points in the fourth quarter as they ran out 124-109 winners.
Jamal Murray is finally starting to heat up with back-to-back 30-plus-point games. Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic continues to put up triple-doubles; he already has four through six games and missed out by just one rebound in the other two.
San Antonio Spurs @ LA Clippers
The Spurs are slumping badly. They have now lost four games in a row after winning their first two. Injuries have not helped their cause. They have been without starting centre LaMarcus Aldridge for the last three games due to a knee injury. And now, they once again lost guard Derrick White with a broken toe.
It remains to be seen whether Aldridge will be able to return in LA. If not, the Spurs will struggle to put up points.
As for the Clippers, they are back home after beating the West-leading Suns in Phoenix, 112-107. It was an impressive victory, especially since Kawhi Leonard had an off-night with just 15 points on 4-of-21 shooting. With Kawhi struggling, Paul George carried the Clippers with 39 points on 15-of-24 from the field including 7-of-10 on 3-pointers.
PG-13 is having a strong start to the season, averaging 25 points with 5 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting nearly 49 per cent from beyond the arc.
Chicago Bulls @ Portland Trail Blazers
Portland’s defence has been a big problem early on despite the offseason additions of Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. But Damian Lillard and co. can still put up a lot of points, and they will be eager to bounce back at home against the Bulls, who have an even worse defence.
Chicago have gone 3-1 in their last four games after losing their first three. Although, two of those wins were against the poor Wizards, while the other was against a Mavericks team that was without Luka Doncic.
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