The Brooklyn Nets found themselves in a solid buy-low spot yesterday against the Golden State Warriors, and they delivered with a strong 134-117 win (and cover) at the Chase Center. Kyrie Irving might have led the Nets in scoring, but I thought James Harden stole the show.
Since Harden has become a Net, he has been absolutely spectacular. With him on the floor Brooklyn has a 5.8 net rating, and last night he dropped 16 dimes as he continues to thrive in the role of point guard for this team. However, let's continue to monitor this team's defense with Harden on the floor. Most would say there is no 'D' in Harden due to his lack of effort on that end of the floor, but the numbers say something else.
In his time at Brooklyn, the Nets' defensive rating improves by 7.6 points every 100 possessions. This could just be a short sample-size anomaly, but Harden has always been slightly better than perceived on defense, especially in the low post. If Brooklyn somehow become adequate on defense, this league better watch out -- and Harden could be a key to finding that adequacy.
Note: *indicates that team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
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Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks (-5, 236.5)
Since CJ McCollum went down with his foot injury, the Trail Blazers have been one of the most undervalued teams in the league. Portland is 7-5 SU and ATS since that injury with a -0.4 net rating. The Trail Blazers failed to cover the first three games without McCollum, and are actually 6-3 SU/7-2 ATS in their previous nine games, 5-1 SU and ATS in the last six. This all matters because it shows how undervalued Portland has been of late, but also because Dallas has been worse across the board than Portland has been over this same stretch.
The Mavericks are 7-8 SU/4-11 ATS in the 15 games they have played over the same time span. They have a -4.5 net rating and rank 30th in defensive efficiency, allowing 120.6 points every 100 possession. Sure, the Mavericks have won four straight and five out of six, but they are only 2-4 ATS over those six games with a break even net rating (0.0). Their offense has improved dramatically, but they are still allowing an astonishing 124.8 points every 100 possessions. Even in their win over New Orleans the other night, they allowed the Pelicans to average 1.34 points per possession. Thanks, but no thanks on laying points with Dallas here.