Sunday’s Essentials

Editor's Note: NBA Member leader Antony Dinero (+2349) is on an 49-34 (59%, +1103) run over the past 10 days (68.4%) and is on a 28-15 run (65%, +1171) on member plays. He led VegasInsider in guaranteed profits (+2809) and totals (+2423) while finishing second overall (+1760) in 2017-18. Don't miss out on more winners from him this basketball season on Click to win!

Game of the Night - Brooklyn at L.A. Clippers (-6, 232), 9:05 ET, Prime Ticket

A pair of Eastern Conference powers square off in the afternoon, but since we’re seeking out a “Game of the Night” here, the lone matchup featuring teams that should both make the playoffs will have to suffice.

There are notes on 76ers-Bucks below, but we’ve got you owls covered on Nets-Clips, which pits teams looking at undesirable playoff matchups at the moment. Considering neither was expected to make the postseason back in October, its not so bad that they’re currently slated to open on the road against the Raptors and Warriors. It’s also not ideal and potentially preventable.

Brooklyn is currently only ahead Southeast Division-leading Miami among likely playoff teams, but will be vying with Detroit for the No. 6 seed and has a difficult schedule to navigate considering this is the third of a seven-game road trip that opened with double-digit losses to the Thunder and Jazz and continues with games against the Kings, Lakers and Trail Blazers after this one before finishing up in Philadelphia. It has just four home games left. All will come against teams currently expected to make the playoffs.

The Nets will need to pull off a few upsets if they’re going to finish above .500 for the first time since 2013-14. It’s unlikely that two Southeast teams will be able to play well enough to surpass their record and prevent them from ending a playoff drought that dates back to ’15, but that possibility does exist given their grueling remaining slate.

The Clippers have pulled away from Sacramento in the race for the West’s No. 8 seed and will reach the playoffs unless they collapse and lose 10 of their final 12 while the Kings win 75 percent of their remaining games. Mathematically, it’s possible, but highly unlikely.

Doc Rivers’ team will almost certainly be playing on in mid-April and would love to open anywhere but Oakland, so they’ll have to catch one of the teams in front of them unless Golden State falls behind Denver again in the race for the top seed. L.A. is 9-3 over its last 12 games as it heads into its final dozen contests, so another stretch of success like the one it is currently enjoying could result in potentially landing homecourt advantage for the first round since it has pulled just 2.5 games behind the Trail Blazers, who currently hold residence in that spot. Portland is anxiously anticipating hearing what guard C.J. McCollum’s MRI results say about the knee injury he suffered in the third quarter of Saturday night’s costly loss in San Antonio.

A win tonight would guarantee a .500 record for the Clippers, who have surprised since seemingly giving up their pursuit of a postseason appearance when they traded Tobias Harris to Philadelphia in January in order to open up a second max-salary slot for this summer while adding multiple first-round picks and impressive rookie shooter Landry Shamet. L.A. is 10-5 since the deal.

The Clippers have won seven of their last eight games in a favorite’s role (5-2-1 ATS) and come off a 128-121 win over the Bulls on Friday night that saw them fall victim to a backdoor cover. They struggled some but ultimately pulled away despite a big night from Chicago’s Zach LaVine. L.A. got big nights from small forward Danilo Gallinari and big man Montrezl Harrell. Lou Williams became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer off the bench earlier this week and is also in excellent form, while defensive standout Patrick Beverley continues to set the tone by doing all the little things on offense while attempting to make life miserable for whoever he’s assigned to guard.

The Nets sat Allen Crabbe in Saturday night’s blowout loss in Utah due to a knee issue and don’t have backup guard Shabazz Napier available due to a hamstring strain. It remains to be seen if either participates. The Jazz clamped down and dominated the paint in a 114-98 loss, their second straight double-digit loss on this trip following Wednesday’s 12-point loss in Oklahoma City.

L.A. won the first meeting with the Nets in Brooklyn 127-119 on Nov. 17, getting 28 points from Gallinari to rally from a 15-point deficit. Center Jarrett Allen led Brooklyn with a career-high 24 points in addition to 11 rebounds, but he’s gotten off to a rough start against Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert, wrestling with foul trouble while averaging just six points and five boards in 25.5 minutes. He’s got a more favorable matchup here at the onset against L.A.’s Ivica Zubac and will need to get off to a strong start to help Brooklyn attempt to rebound. The Nets are 3-9 on the second night of a back-to-back this season, covering only twice. They’ve had a number of no-shows and weren’t exactly competitive in Salt Lake City, shooting just under 35 percent while being outrebounded 65-44. Brooklyn is just 1-12 when held 100 points.

The Nets haven’t beaten the Clippers at Staples center since 2010. They’ll be back in the building to face the Lakers on Friday night. The ‘under’ has prevailed in seven consecutive games involving Brooklyn.

Best of the Rest

Charlotte at Miami, 1:05 p.m. ET: The Heat open Sunday's action a-game up on the Magic and these Hornets, so taking care of business at home is essential. We'll see if they can get an assist from Saturday night in South Florida since the Hornets came into town after beating the Wizards in D.C. on Friday. They should be fresh given time off earlier this week but were held to just 84 points the last time they saw Miami back on March 6.

Philadelphia at Milwaukee, 3:35 p.m. ET, ABC: The 76ers saw all five of their starters score in double-figures last time out, which is especially important since there haven't been many games where they've been able to put Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick in the lineup. The Bucks rallied from 20 points down at the break and wound up crushing the Heat by 15 points, but the win proved costly since guard Malcolm Brogdon suffered a torn plantar fascia and will miss at least six weeks, likely keeping him out of at least the frist round of the playoffs. These teams played way back on Oct. 24 at Fiserv Forum. Milwaukee posted a dominant 123-108 win despite 30 points and 19 rebounds from Joel Embiid as Giannis Antetokounmpo put together a 32-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist performance.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at