With their actual playoff hopes somehow still alive, San Antonio will need to approach every single game as though the postseason tournament has already begun. After securing a last-second win in Tim Duncan’s debut as head coach, the Spurs continue their current 3-game road swing tonight in Brooklyn to take on a Nets team that, in the minds of some, won the offseason when they signed both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to multi-year contracts.
The Nets were always going to be a year away from actually contending for a championship, in large part because of Durant being on the mend from an Achilles tear suffered during last year’s NBA Finals while he was a member of the Golden State Warriors. Injury issues have also sidelined Irving for all but 20 games this year, officially being shut down for the year by the Nets recently to undergo shoulder surgery. As if their injury woes haven’t been enough, the usual chatter that seems to follow any team Irving is on has also found its way into the news. There have also been questions about the fit of some of their other players alongside Durant and Irving, namely Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert.
Add all this up and this year’s team has been significantly less fun than last year’s bunch that found their way to the playoffs before bowing out to the Philadelphia 76ers in 5 games. Even though they have just 1 more win than San Antonio, Brooklyn currently sits in 7th place in the Eastern Conference and appears to still be on track to make the playoffs. Both LeVert and Dinwiddie have both shown that they’re capable of going off, with LeVert providing a recent example against in an overtime win in Boston on Tuesday when he dropped 51 points.
San Antonio Spurs (26-34) at Brooklyn Nets (27-34)
March 6, 2020 | 6:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Jakob Poeltl (Out - MCL Strain), LaMarcus Aldridge (Out - Shoulder), Marco Belinelli (illness — day to day)
Nets Injuries: Garrett Temple (ankle sprain — day to day)
Dejounte Murray continues to grow up before our eyes
It’s safe to say that since the Rodeo Road Trip, Dejounte Murray has turned some sort of corner. Since the game right before All Star break, he’s had three 20-point performances, the most recent coming in Tuesday’s win over the Hornets. He’s looked much more comfortable hunting his spots in the offense and hasn’t been shy about letting it fly, with double digit shot attempts coming in 7 of his last 10 games. Watch how easily he is able to create space for his mid-range looks in this clip:
Following the win, Tim Duncan opened up about Murray’s play and what he needs most going forward as he continues to grow:
Duncan on Dejounte Murray: "His confidence & aggression are going up. They are going in the right direction and he’s big for us. He’s going to have to be big for us. He needs experience, he needs time on the floor & he needs situational experience. He’s going to be a good one.”— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) March 4, 2020
If Murray can continue to make strides as he has done all season, the Spurs could have a future All Star on their hands. It is going to be exciting to watch how he finishes out this season.
Let’s hope he goes for 20 more tonight!
With LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl both out, San Antonio needs to find a way to do a much better job on the glass
In their last 3 games, the Spurs have pulled down rebound totals of 31, 33, and 33 again. Their opponents have out rebounded them 128 to 97, a difference of 31 rebounds. In their most recent game against the Hornets, they somehow found a way to win a game in which they were -14 on the glass, including -9 on the offensive glass (6 offensive boards compared to 15 for Charlotte). They have clearly struggled without the help of big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl, both guys who not only pull down their fair share of boards, but also make it easier for other players to get into rebounding position.
The Nets, on the other hand, are amongst the best rebounding teams in the NBA. They are 5th in offensive rebounds per game (10.9) and are also 2nd in total rebounds per game (48.4). San Antonio is going to have to do a much better job of keeping Brooklyn off the glass than they have done against some of their more recent opponents if they want to come away with a victory tonight.
For the Nets’ fans’ perspective, visit Nets Daily.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.