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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Brooklyn Nets

Can the Spurs close out a disappointing Rodeo Road Trip on a high note?

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A few years ago it would’ve been a relief to see the Nets at the end of a tough road trip, SEGABABA or not. Even today their name is still likely to prompt half-buried memories of 60-loss seasons and the swan songs of titans like Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and Andrea Bargnani.

As this year’s RRT has reminded us once again, times have changed. Thanks in part to Spurs alum and Nets GM Sean Marks, Brooklyn’s sitting in the 6th seed, having overcome its previous missteps and dearth of draft assets to claw its way back to NBA relevancy.

After giving the Spurs a run for their money in San Antonio last month, the Nets will have rising star Caris LeVert back in this one, giving them another creator on the perimeter alongside D’Angelo Russell. Given the Spurs’ struggles keeping up with Kevin Knox, Damyean Dotson and Emmanuel Mudiay last night, that could spell trouble.

San Antonio Spurs (34-2728) @ Brooklyn Nets (31-30)

February 25, 2019 | 6:30 PM CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI

Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee — out), Derrick White (heel — probable), LaMarcus Aldridge (illness — probable)

Nets injuries: Spencer Dinwiddie (thumb — out)

Containing D’Angelo Russell

Like many capable ball-handlers this season, the Nets’ first-time All-Star had his way against the Spurs’ defense the last time around, penetrating and setting up looks for his teammates or his own 12-foot pull-ups. Derrick White, who should be good to go after getting the night off against the Knicks, will likely get the assignment again. He’ll need to balance physicality and discipline so as not to get into foul trouble this time around.

Preparing for Brooklyn’s zone

Early into the last matchup in San Antonio, the Nets had some success in dropping into a zone, which clogged San Antonio’s lanes, took away some of the midrange, and forced Pop to go into more perimeter-oriented lineups. Here’s the Spurs coach speaking about it afterwards:

“Zones are tough for everybody in the NBA . . . With the short clock, people just sort of stop. It’s a good move — [the Nets] have been real successful; they’ve used it quite a bit and it’s really helped them out. And there were times it gave us trouble, times we had good shots and missed them, but it keeps you on your toes and keeps you off balance, so it was a good tactic by Coach Atkinson.”

I’d look for a quick reaction from Pop if/when Kenny Atkinson turns to it tonight.

Full squad?

I’m assuming that White, who was listed as available on Sunday but kept on the shelf, will be good to go tonight. In doing so, I’m going to purge everything that happened 24 hours ago from memory and believe in the collective competencies of a full Spurs squad. If someone is sitting, however, consider my prediction below flipped.

Vegas prediction: Nets by 2.

Game prediction: Spurs by 6.

For the Nets fans’ perspective, visit Nets Daily

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.