Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network, FOX Sports GO
Listen: WFAN 101.9, 660 AM
The Brooklyn Nets are coming off the heels of another defeat to the crosstown rival New York Knicks. They’ll look to redeem themselves Wednesday night against one of the Western Conference’s best, the San Antonio Spurs. With 44 games of the season under their belt, the Nets have been hitting a wall with D’Angelo Russell still on the bench. They’ve dropped five of their last six games and have struggled to put together full performances against competitors. It is not the time to start panicking, but the Nets certainly want to kick things up a notch before these losses start piling up. They face a difficult foe in the Spurs, but this is a beatable team if the Nets play their cards right.
The San Antonio Spurs are coming off of a tough loss of their own. Monday night’s matchup saw the Spurs lose a 112-109 game against an Atlanta Hawks team with the worst record in the league. The Spurs currently find themselves third in the Western Conference and boast the league’s No. 1 home court advantage with a stellar 19-2 record. They have had a solid season so far, considering their star player in Kawhi Leonard missed an extended period of time with a quad injury. Even so, the Spurs still post a sub-par 10-14 record on the road. If the Nets want to come away with a victory they have to take advantage of that. If the Spurs struggle with fatigue from travel, the Nets have to show off the No. 1 pace in the league and fly past this deep roster.
Three things to watch for
LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol
The struggle to guard opposing bigs has been a focal point defensively all season for Kenny Atkinson’s group. They struggled early on in the year, showed signs of improvement for a bit, and now are reverting back to old ways. The Knicks have had their way with Brooklyn this season, and a big reason for that has been the disparity in size. Now, the Nets have to gameplan for a motivated LaMarcus Aldridge and an aging but still productive Pau Gasol. Look for the Nets to swarm these two whenever they get the ball in the post; the more time you give them to operate, the better position they can get in to attack.
DeMarre Carroll has looked like the best version of himself since returning from injury. Though the Nets have not taken advantage of his return with wins, he has been the main contributor the past two games. His veteran-savvy allows him to make defenders look around after a defensive rebound, and keep the defense honest when dribbling up the court.
With the trade deadline looming, Carroll certainly may be garnering interest from some contending teams in the league. Coming off a 20-point game, Carroll needs to keep up his production if Brooklyn’s stars continue to struggle and if the Nets want to get a return for him
Caris LeVert has been another player who has performed well recently. He’s taken a leap since making the move to primary ball handler off the bench, so it is yet to be seen if he will continue that role when D’Angelo Russell comes back or if he has to adjust his game and play a little more off the ball. It is probable that he will continue to have the ball in his hands for most of the time, but Atkinson might try to switch things up to get him more comfortable in the off-ball role.