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Brooklyn Nets vs LA Clippers Prediction: 3 player battles to watch out for | NBA Season 2020-21

Paul George and James Harden battle in Brooklyn
Paul George and James Harden battle in Brooklyn
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Modified 21 Feb 2021
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Two of the NBA's best sides compete for the second time this season as the LA Clippers host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

Brooklyn are riding high on the back of 5 straight wins, including a huge comeback victory over Phoenix and easing past the Lakers on Thursday. As for the LA Clippers, they continue to impress at the top of the West and are back to a full-strength outfit with the return of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Brooklyn Nets vs LA Clippers: 3 Key Matchups

At the time of writing, it is expected that Kevin Durant will not feature in this fixture, having missed the last three Brooklyn Nets games. Therefore, we have decided not to mention the former MVP in our list of key matchups to avoid inconsistencies.

Aside from Durant, all of the other stars are expected to play in this matchup which did not disappoint earlier in the season.

The Brooklyn Nets came out of that matchup with a 124-120 win, in which their three superstars notched up a whopping 90 points. With the sides currently boasting the two best offenses in the league, fans can expect this to be a thrilling encounter. Let's take a look at the key player battles on the night.

#3 Kyrie Irving vs Patrick Beverley

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving goes in for lay-up
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving goes in for lay-up

The LA Clippers defensive frustrator Patrick Beverley's return from injury was a huge boost for Ty Lue's side. Across from the veteran guard will be Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving who has every trick in the book at his disposal as one of the league's greatest ever ball-handlers.

Pat Bev was instrumental in the LA Clippers win against Utah on Thursday, gaining plaudits from Donovan Mitchell after the game for his First-Team All-Defense worthy performance.

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Beverley is a polarizing player who doesn't shy away from any opponent (guarding KD in the playoffs springs to mind) though isn't a traditional creative point guard. Instead, Lou Williams is used for points and dimes off the LA Clippers bench. Despite that, Beverley was able to put up 17 points against the Jazz which was vastly more than his season average 8.7.

Kyrie Irving is likely his toughest opponent, not only for his scoring (averaging 27.7 points) but also for his handles. Irving can take on anybody 1v1 and win more often than not. The 10th-year guard is having a stellar season in his first full year with the Brooklyn Nets and is shooting at a career-high 52.9% from the field.

#2 Joe Harris vs Kawhi Leonard

Los Angeles Clippers All-Star starter, Kawhi Leonard
Los Angeles Clippers All-Star starter, Kawhi Leonard
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Kawhi Leonard grabbed a cool 33 points last time these two sides met, though wasn't quite enough to lift his side over the Brooklyn Nets powerhouse trio. Leonard is playing at an MVP-calibre level in his second season with the LA Clippers and was just named as an All-Star starter this week.

'The Claw' is one of the best all-round players in the league and will give Joe Harris a tormenting night. Leonard is averaging 26.8 points with 1.7 steals, both team-leading stats for the LA Clippers. He is also dishing out 5 dimes per game and shooting at over 50% from the field.

Harris is no pushover when it comes to scoring, however, and has already proven his worth to the Brooklyn Nets 'big three'. Taking less shots this year, Harris has upped his efficiency and is shooting a league-high 50.7% from behind the 3-point line. Even more impressive is his NBA-leading field goal effectiveness, which currently stands at a staggering 69.4%.

#1 James Harden vs Paul George

Sunday's marquee matchup will be between two All-Star candidates, with the LA Clippers' Paul George facing off against James Harden. The last time these two sides met, Harden grabbed a triple-double and has been the Brooklyn Nets' standout player over the past couple of weeks as both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have had to sit.

'The Beard' is averaging a career-high 11.7 assists for the Brooklyn Nets, therefore quashing his creativity will be George's top priority on the night. The LA Clippers shooting guard is an elite defender, however, having been the league's steal champion in 2019 and being an All-Defensive Team member on 4 occasions.

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There are very few players in the league who can guard Harden effectively, as he is one of the best shooters in the game. On Tuesday, he helped the Brooklyn Nets back from a 24-point deficit, hitting a clutch three with less than 30 seconds on the clock, before then leading the Nets in scoring against the Lakers with 23 points.

Paul George will be looking to hit back on the offensive end, currently averaging much-improved numbers on last season and is shooting at over 50% from the field for the LA Clippers.

Brooklyn Nets vs LA Clippers prediction

This matchup is exceedingly difficult to call. Considering the two sides' elite offense and star talent, we can expect a high-scoring affair. However, with the LA Clippers' superior defense and home-court advantage they may just edge the contest.

Published 21 Feb 2021, 02:00 IST
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