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Nets and Clippers wrap up weekend NBA schedule

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Los Angeles Clippers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images

Playoff bound. The Brooklyn Nets were able to put the finishing touches on their playoff bid and came away with a win against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night in the bubble. It’s been a wild year and officially earning a playoff spot is a nice reward for Jacque Vaughn and friends.

The opponent tonight will be the Los Angeles Clippers. After a banner offseason, the Clips are hoping to bring it all home with an NBA championship. They sat their big guns down the stretch against the play-in tournament bound Portland Trail Blazers yesterday afternoon (a likely attempt to get Portland into the eighth spot so they can annoy LeBron James and the Lakers), but won anyway! Funny how things play out sometimes. Ask the Bucks.

Where to follow the game

YES and NBATV have us covered. WFAN 101.9 FM, too. Primetime affair so we’re getting it going after 9 PM.

Injuries

Caris Levert was seen flexing his knee at the end of Friday’s game and is likely to sit this out. Joe Harris is listed as doubtful as is Jarrett Allen. Jamal Crawford is out. For the Nets sake, they're hoping they don't get fined again. Looking ahead, Brooklyn plays the Magic on Tuesday, the Blazers on Thursday, then will have four days off before the playoffs open on August 17.

UPDATE: Allen (left ankle sprain), Harris (left groin contusion) and LeVert (rest) have been upgraded from DOUBTFUL to PROBABLE.

Montrezl Harrell is away from the team following the death of a family member. Patrick Beverley is out with a calf injury. Kawhi Leonard is back.

The game

We know now that the Nets will either be the seventh or eighth seed in the East (currently up 1.5 games on Orlando). In fact, Brooklyn will probably be doing some scoreboard watching. The game before theirs, the Magic and Celtics will face off. And like the Nets, the Magic will be undermanned. In addition to Michael Carter-Williams (foot) and Aaron Gordon (hamstring), the Magic have ruled out Evan Fournier with an illness. A Boston win would nearly seal the deal for the seventh seed. A Nets win, unlikely as it may seem, would do it.

We have no clue where the Clippers will land out west, or how the rest of the conference will shape up ... with the exception of the top seeded Lakers. The Clips have crucial games this week against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday and the regular season finale against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

We really haven’t had an extended opportunity to see the Clippers at full strength. Sabreena Merchant of Clips Nation has more:

Remember that the Clippers are 25-10 when both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George play, which is a .714 winning percentage. That record improves to 22-7 when both superstars play with Beverley, a .759 winning percentage. Per Pivot Analysis, in those 29 games, the Clippers’ effective field-goal percentage is 54.6%, and their net rating is +10.1, compared to 53.2% and +6.5 overall.

The Clippers have been waiting to have their whole team together for most of the season, and it’s fair to wonder if lack of availability is simply a bug of this roster. The eight-game stretch when the Clippers went 7-1 heading into the hiatus is the only time that we have seen this team at full strength, and it was tantalizing, but maybe that’s the only glimpse we’ll get.

As a secondary star, you can do a hell of a lot worse than PG. He checks off all the boxes you want from an All Star player: he can score on all three levels, is a top tier defender, and is a capable enough playmaker that he can run the offense for you. The big knock on George (really since 2017) is that he doesn’t do enough to lead his teams to victory in the playoffs. With an elite roster around him, maybe George will be able to shut everyone up come playoff time.

And because we're all fans of mess, here's some of the postgame chatter between George, Beverley, and Damian Lillard

I'm so glad the NBA is back.

If he keeps it up, Jarrett Allen will make it impossible for the team to put him back on the bench next season. The big fella put together one of the best all around games of his career on Friday with a 17/11/8 line. He’s really been able to adjust to all of the changes thrown upon him this year and a good showing in the playoffs will go a long way for his future.

With Allen likely out, Donta Hall and Rodions Kurucs will tangle with Ivica Zubac on the inside. Zubac does the dirty work for the Clips and is one of the best offensive rebounders in basketball. If the Nets can control the boards, they can dictate the tempo of this one.

Meanwhile, Woj thinks that Jacque Vaughn has a very good shot at returning as head coach next season. Here’s what he wrote Saturday morning...

It should be noted that virtually every Net, from Jarrett Allen to Jamal Crawford has heaped praise on Vaughn.

Player to watch: Kawhi Leonard

Who’s the man with the master plan? In his first season in LA, Leonard has been as good as advertised and has a chance to pull off something nobody has ever done in NBA history: win Finals MVP on three different teams. With Brooklyn's key players likely sitting, we probably won't see Leonard for too long. The playoffs start next week and at that point, they'll play Leonard big minutes. You nurse someone through the year so they can be ready to rock come winning time.

Garrett Temple will have a busy night. When the Nets begin the playoffs, he's gonna be counted on to hit open looks and play quality defense. Matching up with Leonard will be a great tuneup for him as Brooklyn fine tunes things in the last week of the regular season.

From the Vault

Got a chance to sit back and enjoy the latest Verzuz battle on Thursday night, so let’s throw on one of the many dope tracks Rick Ross left on the cutting room floor.

More reading: Clips Nation