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Nets play host to Spurs ... and it’s Pride Night

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Denver Nuggets v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images

Yuck. On Monday, the New York Knicks came into Barclays Center to play the Brooklyn Nets on the second leg of a back-to-back. The day before, they blew a 19-point lead and lost to the New Orleans Pelicans in overtime. You would’ve never known that was the case after they beat the Nets by 15 points. It was Brooklyn’s fourth loss in the last five games. Unacceptable.

The opponent tonight will be the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have been humming along and will be in the playoffs for the 20th straight season. They lost a close one to the Hawks in Atlanta on Monday afternoon. They’ve got one more game to go on this trip before heading back to Texas.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip-off after 7:30.

Injuries

No D’Angelo Russell tonight. Isaiah Whitehead is with Long Island who plays the Westchester Knicks tonight. Milton Doyle is with Brooklyn.

Kawhi Leonard is out, the Spurs announced Wednesday afternoon. Rudy Gay and Manu Giniboli are out. Pau Gasol is questionable.

The game

San Antonio won the first one in December.

Gregg Popovich is a very insightful man, and his comments to Marc Spears of ESPN about MLK Day and how things have changed (or not changed) in the United States were very informative:

The older you get that sort of thing hits you. Things happen like last week and six months ago and you learn how precious time is and how much we have to work on a day-to-day basis to make the situation of this country better for everybody, especially those who have been beleaguered by systemic racism.

To say it’s been 50 years … and you say, ‘How much progress has been made?’ You say, ‘Yes and no.’ And it’s a hell of a discussion, and you can fight back and forth as to what has been gained and what has not been gained. And in today’s environment really question where are we now, where are we going and what do we need to do.

The three-point line will decide this game. The Nets are second in three-point attempts, but only 28th in efficiency. The Spurs on defense allow the sixth fewest threes per game and are sixth best in efficiency.

It’s hard for us on the outside looking in to get a gauge on how Jahlil Okafor is fitting in when the dude barely gets on the court. His minutes have decreased in the last three games, but he ought to get a little more run with Gasol banged up for San Antonio. He provides an inside presence for a team that tends to become lost on offense when their three-pointers aren’t falling.

Player to watch: LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge has continued to hold the fort down while his teammates deal with various injuries. Over the summer, Aldridge asked to be traded, but the Spurs decided against it. In turn, the Spurs have made a concerted effort to feature him on offense more. He’s shooting closer to the basket, getting to the line more, and generally appears to be more comfortable with the Spurs. See what happens when you work with your people and build on their strengths?

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will be one of the many people assigned to him. Rondae had trouble the first time he saw the Spurs and is hoping things will be different this time around. To help him out, we’ll see a good amount of Quincy Acy tonight. The Nets are hoping Acy can provide a physical presence when defending Aldridge, and hit the occasional three-pointer on offense. Acy tends to get shot-happy so the Nets will have to rein him in some.

Pride Night

The Nets will celebrate diversity and equality at its second annual Pride Night tonight. The Pride Night celebration will feature prominent members and allies of the LGBTQ community participating in a pregame awareness panel and special in-game entertainment.

The pregame panel will be an open discussion to raise awareness for LGBTQ diversity, equality, and community. The panel will include Jason Collins, the former Nets player and the NBA’s first active openly-gay player; Kaz Mitchell, Co-Executive Director, Circle of Voices, Inc.; Eliza Byard, Executive Director, GLSEN; and espnW’s Katie Barnes. The panel will be moderated by Hudson Taylor, Founder & Executive Director of Athlete Ally.

The panel will be part of an ongoing speaker series that will focus on celebrating differences and inspiring change through the power of sport.

Pride Night will be embraced throughout the venue including special in-game entertainment and video content, as well as food and beverage offerings.

A t-shirt with the Nets logo in rainbow colors will be featured as the Item of the Game, and will be available for purchase at the Swag Shop at Barclays Center for $15, alongside an array of other special Pride merchandise.

One special member of the community will be honored during the game with the Jason Collins Award for Courage and Leadership. The annual award, which was first presented to Jason Collins at the Nets’ inaugural Pride Night, celebrates “a courageous leader.”

From the Vault

On Tuesday, we learned that Boston Celtics great and Basketball Hall of Famer, Jo Jo White passed away at the age of 71. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see Jo Jo in action.

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