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Game Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. San Antonio Spurs

The first of two match-ups against New York teams this week comes against the Nets tonight.

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

There are plenty of storylines surrounding the Brooklyn Nets. The franchise acquired both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency ahead of last season, but neither made much of an impact on the team in their first season with the club. Both dealt with injuries that kept them sidelined most of the year, with Durant missing it entirely. There was also drama with the coaching staff, as head coach Kenny Atkinson stepped down just before the league halted play due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all of this, Brooklyn managed to find themselves in the playoffs for the 2nd straight year, getting swept by the defending champion Toronto Raptors in the first round.

Fast forward to this season and, while they’re still dealing with injuries to Durant and Irving, it’s been a completely different story. Brooklyn signed former Suns point guard and Spurs foe Steve Nash to be their head coach in the offseason and they were also able to further strengthen their roster by prying a disgruntled James Harden away from the Houston Rockets, giving them a Big 3 that, when healthy, just might give them the most formidable roster in the league. While all 3 have only suited up together for a handful of games, that hasn’t stopped the Nets from winning games. Before their 115-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, they were riding an 8-game win streak that included road wins over the Lakers, Clippers, and the Warriors.

Though they’ve been short handed, the Spurs have played well in both games they’ve played since having the bulk of their annual Rodeo Road Trip postponed due to COVID-19 precautions and a handful of positive tests. With just 3 games to go before the All Star break and a grueling second half the season to contend with, they’ll want to continue to build on the solid play that was on display throughout most of the month of February.

Brooklyn Nets (22-13) vs, San Antonio Spurs (17-12)

March 1, 2021 | 7:30 PM CST

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM

Spurs Injuries: Rudy Gay (Out — COVID Protocols), Keldon Johnson (Out — COVID Protocols), Devin Vassell (Out — COVID Protocols), Derrick White (Out — COVID Protocols), Quinndary Weatherspoon (Out — COVID Protocols),

Nets Injures: Kevin Durant (hamstring — OUT), Kyrie Irving (right shoulder — questionable), Jeff Green (shoulder — questionable), Timothy Luwawu-Cabarrot (knee — questionable), Spencer Dinwiddie (OUT)

What to watch for

  • Kyrie Irving missed Brooklyn’s game against the Mavericks on Saturday with what was labeled, “right shoulder injury recovery,” and may also miss tonight’s. Irving suited up in just 20 games for the Nets last year before they shut him down for the season to address a nagging injury to his right shoulder. Speaking to the media, Steve Nash said that he expected Irving to return either against San Antonio tonight or on Wednesday against the Rockets.
  • Dejounte Murray has gone 4 straight games without registering a turnover. On the year he’s averaging 5.1 assists against just 1.6 turnovers a night, a fantastic line for a player with questions concerning his ball security coming into the NBA. Having DeMar DeRozan out there to take a lot of the creating out of Murray’s hands makes life a lot easier on the young guard as he continues to expand his game and grow into the player that he’s capable of becoming.
  • James Harden is leading the NBA in assists and is nearly averaging a triple-double with the Nets this year. He’s played a huge part in sustaining them as they deal with the current absence of Kevin Durant. Even if Irving misses tonight, it’s already been well-established that Harden can carry a team for long stretches during the regular season. No matter the scenario, San Antonio should expect to have their hand’s full tonight.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge looked as good as he has all season in the Spurs’ win over the Pelicans. In his second stint coming off the bench after missing most of February with a hip injury, Aldridge finished with 21 points in just 23 minutes of play, with 10 of those coming from the free throw line. There’s no telling what Aldridge’s role will be going forward with San Antonio, but they’ll surely be happy with a few more of these performances from the veteran.

For the Nets Fan’s perspective, please visit Nets Daily.

As always, the PtR game thread will be open a half hour before tip-off for fans who want to interact with one another on PtR.