Nets vs. Suns Preview: Value on Phoenix at Home?

The Suns have been on a roll of late, while the Nets are missing some key pieces. Joe Dellera shares his top bet for Phoenix-Brooklyn below.

Nets vs. Suns Odds

Nets Odds +7
Suns Odds -7
Over/Under 227
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Nets head to the Valley to take on the Suns in what could’ve been a potential Finals matchup if the Nets weren’t decimated with injuries.

Let’s break down this Tuesday night matchup.

Nets Are Without Key Pieces

The Nets will be without LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) for this matchup, and James Harden (hand) is listed as questionable. Considering this is a front-end of a back-to-back, I’m curious to see if Harden plays in this contest despite him practicing on Monday.

I wrote more about James Harden’s absence and who should see an uptick in usage besides Kyrie Irving in The Action Network’s Fantasy Basketball Forecast and even touched on some prop angles.

The Nets’ Defensive Rating, which was once top-10 in the league, has fallen precipitously over the past month. They now hold an Adjusted Defensive Rating of 111.1 (18th).

Their defense was built on a house of cards, and that has become more evident as the season progressed. Couple this with Aldridge being ruled out over 24 hours in advance, and this defense is incredibly suspect.

The Nets are already thin in the frontcourt, and without Aldridge, that weakness is exacerbated. If he misses an extended period of time, this interior is going to get cooked on a nightly basis.

The Nets have struggled without Kevin Durant. They are just 5-8 on the season without him, despite having Irving and Harden at their disposal recently.

Durant is obviously a bucket, but he also gives this team much-needed length on the defensive side of the ball. Durant has not played in the Nets’ last seven games, and over that stretch, the Nets are just 2-5 with a -4.3 point differential.

Their offense has been churning, scoring 115.4 points per 100 possessions. However, their defense is allowing 119.7 points, per Cleaning the Glass.

With Irving, Harden, and Mills, it’s easy to see why this team can score. But it’s a tall task to outpace a defense like that.

Suns Look to Continue Hot Stretch

The Suns have been lighting the league on fire this season  — they’ve now won 10 in a row and sit at 40-9 overall. It’s absolutely incredible how they’ve dominated teams. And if it’s a close game or they are somehow losing in the fourth quarter, they have been an automatic bet at this point to come back and win.

They’ve done this without DeAndre Ayton (ankle), who has essentially missed the team’s last eight games. Besides Ayton, the Suns will be without Jae Crowder (wrist) and Landry Shamet (ankle) for tonight’s game.

Over this same stretch as the Nets dating back to Jan. 16, the Suns are 8-0 with a +12.4 point differential, the league’s best offense (122.7), and the league’s 11th-best defense (110.2).

The Suns have gotten the job done on both sides of the floor, and they are unbelievably efficient. The Suns have the third-best eFG% in the league at 54.8%, and they are top-seven in shooting percentage from every zone on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass.

On the defensive side of the ball, they have the third-best eFG% allowed at 50.8%. It’s not based on luck. They funnel opponents to take the second-highest frequency of midrange shots, which are considered “low-value.”

The only concern for Phoenix is that the Nets are the best team in the league at converting on these low-value shots, with a 47.5% midrange shooting percentage. However, without Durant and Aldridge, this edge is not as significant.

Nets-Suns Pick

The Suns will try to sweep the season series against the Nets after they won, 113-107, in a game Durant and Harden played. I expect this to not only happen again, but for the Suns to cover the spread as well.

The Suns’ defense should stifle even the best offenses, and they can score at will against a Nets team that has struggled defensively over the past few weeks.

While the seven points may sound significant, the Suns are a whopping 16.7 points better than the Nets over the last half-month.

The Nets have the flashy names and some of the league’s biggest superstars, but I think this just overinflates their value. Trust Chris Paul and Devin Booker to bring home the win and the cover against a banged-up Brooklyn team.

Pick: Suns -7