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Brooklyn’s Caris LaVert and Treveon Graham defend against a driving Dion Waiters of the Heat Saturday (Gaston De Cardenas)
Brooklyn’s Caris LaVert and Treveon Graham defend against a driving Dion Waiters of the Heat Saturday (Gaston De Cardenas)|Associated Press
NBA

NBA Monday: Nets Get Just What They Needed

Also Clippers-Lakers

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

MAVERICKS (+5) at NETS (226.5), 7:30 p.m.
Pick: Nets (-5)

What better get-right spot for the suddenly struggling Brooklyn Nets than the Dallas Mavericks visiting the Barclays Center?

The Nets (32-33) have lost three games in a row and none have been very close. Brooklyn is in some danger of missing the playoffs now and can’t afford to have its recent slide continue against a Dallas team that is 6-24 on the road this season.

The Mavericks (27-35) are also better off losing games the rest of the season like they’ve been doing of late coming in having lost six of seven. Dallas sends its first-round draft pick to Atlanta if it falls out of the top five. The Mavericks are currently eighth in the inverse standings and could use a lot more losing to get closer to the top five and improve their lottery odds.

Motivation is always the biggest factor in handicapping the NBA in the regular season and there’s a lot of motivation for Brooklyn to get a win here and no motivation for Dallas to do so.

CLIPPERS (+3.5) at LAKERS (234.5), 10:30 p.m.
Pick: Clippers (+3.5)

The wrong team is favored here. I don’t understand how you can lay points with the Lakers right now, as detailed in our Saturday handicap of their game against the Suns.

The Clippers (36-29) have found themselves adopting a never-say-die mentality proving the sum of their parts after trading away Tobias Harris might still be equal to a playoff berth. The Clippers are 5-2 in their last seven games and 6-1 ATS in those seven. We get two teams trending in the opposite direction and the team trending downward is favored here.

The Lakers (30-33) are technically the “home” team here but of course the Clippers are playing in their backyard as well.

The underdog is live in this one.