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Nets face tough test vs Spurs

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Started on the good foot, ended on the wrong foot. Brooklyn jumped out to a double digit lead against Indiana, but couldn’t hold on to it and wound up losing a heartbreaker in overtime to the Pacers. Can’t afford to give games away like that.

The opponent tonight will be the San Antonio Spurs. Despite the injuries and the danger awaiting them at the top of the Western Conference, Gregg Popovich and friends have continued to be excellent. They’ve been off for the holidays after beating the Kings in Sacramento on Saturday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8:30.


Nothing new for Brooklyn. Isaiah Whitehead continues with Long Island and Milton Doyle with Brooklyn.

Danny Green has been dealing with some tightness in his groin recently, but at this point, he is probable to play

The game

Kawhi Leonard recently came back from the quad injury that ended his playoffs last year, and the Spurs have taken it slow with him. Since he’s been back, Kawhi has averaged around 17 minutes a night and the Spurs have given him the occasional day off as part of injury management. While Kawhi works his way back into top form, Kyle Anderson will soak up minutes at small forward. Anderson’s length will make things difficult for Allen Crabbe. Crabbe’s shot hasn’t been where it’s needed to be, and now would be as good a time as any to get back in gear. The Spurs have been the fourth best defense in the league, allowing only 101.5 points per 100 possessions.

Speaking of coming back from injury, Tony Parker has looked pretty good since he returned from the quad injury that ended his playoffs last spring. In 11 games back, TP has averaged almost nine points a night while shooting close to 52 percent from the field. He’s at his best when he’s driving to the basket, and it’ll be up to Spencer Dinwiddie to cut off his attempts at penetrating to the basket. Dinwiddie has been a god send for the Nets, but I think he has room to get even better. His shot selection sometimes leaves a lot to be desired and when games are close late, they’ll need him to take better, more selective shots.

Player to watch: LaMarcus Aldridge

Quietly, LMA has been one of the best big men in the league this year. He’s filled the void while Kawhi has been out and has been averaging a career high 23.9 points a game. One noticeable difference in his game this season is that he’s taken fewer of the deep two pointers. Only 23.1 percent of his shot attempts have come from 16 to 23 feet, a career low. He’s stretched out his range a little bit and is shooting a respectable 37.3 percent from three point range. Over at Pounding the Rock, Taylor Young had a really fun description of LMA’s game

Rondae Hollis Jefferson will be starting the first of two very difficult games. He’s got Aldridge tonight and will likely have to deal with Anthony Davis tomorrow night. RHJ will hope to force Aldridge off the block and as far away from the rim as possible. Brooklyn should look to throw some double teams

From the Vault

Becky Hammon has a chance to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this spring, so let’s get to know the WNBA great and current Spurs assistant coach

More reading: Pounding the Rock