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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs @ Brooklyn Nets

The winning streak is up to eight as the Spurs roll into Brooklyn to face off against Deron Williams and the underachieving Nets.

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio SpursBrooklyn Nets

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
December 3, 2014, 6:30 PM Spurs Time

The cost of slapping together an NBA super-team these days  beyond the league's crippling tax fines  is the eventual fallout when a group of guys that look good "on paper" end up just a handful of paper tigers.

Last year's Nets were meant to be potential Heat-killers after owner Mikhail Prokhorov mortgaged his team's future for a win-now roster that shattered salary-cap records from here to Moscow. Brooklyn sent off three first-round picks, some young prospects and a former Kardashian to Boston for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, teaming them up with all-stars Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez and forming an experienced, hungry group. At least on paper.

Today's team is the swan song of the Russian owner's dream. Williams has yet to really regain his Utah Jazz form, Garnett is a shell of his former self and his Celtic teammates Pierce and Terry have both moved on. Lopez, meanwhile, is a monolithic enigma, flummoxing everyone, including head coach Lionel Hollins, with his disappointing play. He's a legitimate 7-footer, hulking over opponents like a player you might have created in NBA 2K14. But like that create-a-player, you would've sacrificed certain attributes for such superlative size  namely rebounding.

I could write volumes wondering why Brolo can't average more than seven boards a game for his career, but it's nothing I haven't ranted on about on numerous fantasy message boards before. After selecting him year after year, I wised up and buried him in my pre-draft rankings  in every league draft, except the one I couldn't stay awake to do myself, since I'm in London. Thanks, autodraft.


Beyond Lopez underperforming, the Nets have been left wanting with the play of Team USA member (?) Mason Plumlee and only sent out Andrei Kirilenko (now reportedly on the trade block) for a total of 36 minutes to start the year. Add in first-year coach Hollins trying to put all the pieces together and you can see how Brooklyn is currently below .500. Luckily for the Nets, that doesn't knock them out of the playoff conversation at all in the Eastern Conference.

These two teams met recently in San Antonio, in game that was a SEGABABA for both sides. Parker and Green poured in 22 and 21 points, respectively, leading the way to a 99-87 Spurs win.

This time, it's just the Nets on the end of a back-to-back, following a cross-town game against the equally disappointing Knicks. With a day of rest following a close win in Philly, Tim Duncan, who sat that game, should be good to go Wednesday night. Luckily, Tony Parker's rib injury isn't as serious as previously thought (bruised, not broken), after an in-practice collision with Austin Daye, but I wouldn't expect him to play again tonight.

That'll give Cory Joseph, absent form the last matchup against Brooklyn, the assignment of defending Deron Williams, who may look to up the aggressiveness against a relatively unknown opponent. Williams is bigger, and will often take defenders into the post if he sees an advantage. As will teammate Joe Johnson, who should see a combination of Kawhi and Danny Green for most of the night.

Speaking of Kawhi, the story for San Antonio at the moment is Leonard's long-awaited growth into a more go-to role. We've all been preparing for when Whi might be flung into a more regular leading role, and four-straight 20-plus-point games are the strongest indicator (well, maybe since the Finals) that the time has come.

Tonight is another chance for The Hand to push the pace and set the tone offensively. Whether he gets Johnson or the offensively-minded Bogdanovic marking him, I hope to see the same attacking mindset that he's had the past few weeks. The days of KG anchoring top NBA defenses is long gone, with these Nets ranking towards the bottom in defensive rating, and a fresher Spurs unit shouldn't have any trouble eclipsing triple digits. Bringing the same level of execution to the defensive end should push the winning streak to nine tonight.

Matchup to watch: Joe Johnson vs. Kawhi Leonard. All eyes are on Kawhi as Pop looks to lean on the budding star more and more, but he'll also be tasked with matching up against the savvy Joe Cool. Will he be able to put the clamps on him defensively? Will he push his scoring streak to five games of 20 or more points? Will he out-rebound Brook Lopez? (The last one is a definite yes.)


Brooklyn Nets (6-9)

San Antonio Spurs (13-4)

December 3, 2014

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

6:30 PM CST


Radio: WOAI 1200AM


Deron Williams


Cory Joseph

Bojan Bogdanovic


Danny Green

Joe Johnson


Kawhi Leonard

Kevin Garnett


Boris Diaw

Brook Lopez


Tim Duncan

Game prediction: Spurs by five.

For the Nets' perspective, visit Nets Daily.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 |

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