By Phil Simon
We have yet to see the Brooklyn Nets at full strength this season and it won’t happen on Tuesday when they take on the Phoenix Suns.
Playing without Kevin Durant, James Harden and losing LaMarcus Aldridge early in the contest, the Nets lost their fourth straight game, 110-106, to Golden State on Saturday. The Suns, meanwhile, are headed in the opposite direction. They rallied to beat San Antonio on Sunday for their 10th straight success becoming the first to win 40 games. The Suns withstood 39 points from Durant to beat Brooklyn 113-107 as a 1.5-point road dog when the clubs met in November.
Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns
Date and Time: Tuesday, February 1, 2022, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Opening NBA Odds: (Check Back Later)
Nets at Suns TV Coverage: TNT
The Nets are dealing with injuries to a few of their stars. Durant is out with a knee injury and James Harden missed the previous two games with ailments. They also lost Aldridge to an ankle problem in Saturday’s game. Despite those setbacks they showed grit and determination on Saturday hanging with Golden State to cover the 10.5-point closing line in the 110-106 setback, their fourth straight. The Nets are a strong road team going 17-7 SU and 10-4 ATS away from home and they’ll be tested again on Tuesday.
The Suns have put together multiple double-digit winning streaks this season and own the NBA’s best record at 40-9. Their latest run reached 10 by rallying to take down San Antonio on Sunday. And Phoenix will likely be a top NBA pick at most sportsbooks considering the arc each team is currently on. It’s hard to find any negatives with Phoenix, but if we want to nitpick they’ve lost more games at home than they have on the road. And like most teams around the league they are dealing with some injury issues. DeAndre Ayton, Jae Crowder and Cameron Payne have all missed time and were not available on Sunday. Considering the Suns keep winning it might be a good idea to keep those guys on the shelf for a while longer.
This could very well be playoff preview. Though the Nets are struggling right now having lost four games in a row while dealing with injuries to two of their big three, throwing down on this matchup as an NBA Finals pick has some value since the Nets have seen their stock plummet. They are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, but there is no dominant team like in the West leaving Brooklyn just two games behind East-leading Miami in the loss column. At some point soon, maybe even Tuesday, Harden will be back in the lineup. And if everything goes smoothly Durant will return in a few weeks and Joe Harris could be back by the end of February.
The Nets would like former NBA first overall pick Kyrie Irving to be more than a part time player. But right now they are just happy to have him. Irving is prohibited from playing home games due to New York’s COVID vaccination mandate, so he can play on the road, and he’s played well. Irving dropped 32 on the Dubs over the weekend giving his club a chance to win and he’s scored at least 30 in three of his last four starts. Overall the Nets are 4-4 SU and ATS in games he’s played.
Acquiring Chris Paul ahead of last season has turned out to be the best most move the club has made in some time. The youthful core was in place with guys like Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker. The Suns just needed that veteran presence to tie everything together. That’s where Paul came in, helping the Suns win 51 games and reach the NBA Finals last season. And he’s been even better this season averaging 14.8 points and a NBA best 10.3 assists. He and Bridges are the only players to participate in every game with CP3 going nearly 33 minutes a night. Yeah, I guess you could say there’s something left in the tank.
Booker has been the biggest beneficiary of playing with Paul. The leading scorer averages 25.1 points, down slightly from last season. But he’s been more efficient on the offensive end. Booker is shooting nearly 38 percent from three-point range and has contributed defensively for a team that holds opponents to 43.9 percent shooting while allowing only 105 points per game. The Suns been a profitable NBA against the spread pick going 27-22 against the closing the line.
Bet Nets at Suns
It’s hard to bet against the Suns in this matchup with Brooklyn dealing with injuries to key players. I don’t think having Kessler Edwards and DeAndre Bembry in the starting lineup was what Steve Nash had in mind, but you play the hand you’re dealt. Every team has injury issues and COVID related absences, it’s how teams handle the situation that makes the difference. Signing Bismack Biyombo was a revelation for the Suns making their front court stronger and deepening their bench. And that’s what proves to be the difference with Phoenix a NBA hot pick on Tuesday night.
NBA Score Prediction: Suns 112, Nets 104