Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 11/17/14

The San Antonio Spurs (18-9) return to action tonight as they make their way to New Jersey to the face the Nets on the third game of the Rodeo Road Trip (2-0).

The Spurs have used a six-game winning streak to make their road record (5-8) look more promising, and they are adding dynamic guard Manu Ginobili back to the lineup for the first time since Ginobili was injured five games into the season.

Without Ginobili, the Spurs were able to continue winning going 14-7 without him behind All-Star guard Tony Parker, a fresh looking Tim Duncan, and multiple options who are producing off the bench.

The Nets are currently trying to stop a five-game losing streak and the team has seen a number of injuries as Brook Lopez is lost for the majority of the season with a broken right foot, and Mehmet Okur is out with a sore lower back.

Deron Williams is the only bright spot for New Jersey as he was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Thursday.

Case No. 28: New Jersey Nets (8-20)

Home Record: 3-9. Last 10 games: 13-7.

Commendable areas for the Nets

  • Making shots from distance: The Nets are currently ranked second in the NBA with 8.9 three-point makes per game. The majority of those makes come from Deron Williams and Anthony Morrow who each shoot more than three three-pointers per game.
  • Offensive rebounding: Judging by their shooting percentage (42% FG), the Nets probably miss a lot of shots which means their big men have more of a chance at offensive rebounds, as the Nets are ranked 4th in the league with 12.2 offensive boards per game.

Deficient areas for the Nets

  • Defense, or lack thereof: The Nets allow their opponents to shoot 49% from the field and score 99.9 points per game. So even when the Spurs seem cold at times on the road, they should be encouraged to know they’re going to get many high percentage shots tonight.
  • Rebounding: I know offensive rebounding was a commendable area for the Nets, but their overall rebounding is taking a hit with Lopez out. The Nets are ranked last in the league with 26.8 defensive rebounds per game, and 28th overall in rebounding with 39 rebounds per game.
  • Shooting: The Nets only make 42% of their shots and manage to put just 92.4 points on the scoreboard most nights.

Nets Top 5 Players

Deron Williams – 20.7 points, 8.4 assist, 1 steal, 17 FGA (41% FG), 5.9 3PT FGA (34%)

Williams is putting the Nets on his back for now. He’s expected to do two things in the offseason, a) wait to see if the Nets can make a trade for Dwight Howard, or b) leave New Jersey for a larger market team that is going to net him a big payday. He’ll have fun guarding Tony Parker tonight as Parker has scored 100 points combined in his last three games.

MarShon Brooks – 14.4 points, 1.1 steals, 12 FGA (45%)

Brooks is listed as a 6’5 guard who is just returning from a broken toe injury. I’m interested in seeing how both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green defend the young Nets guard.

Anthony Morrow – 13.9 points, 14.4 FGA (42%), 5.4 3PT FGA (43%)

Kris Humphries – 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 10 FGA (48%), 1 Kardashian divorce!

Jordan Farmer – 11.1 points, 8.4 FGA (48%)

Game Expectation

The Spurs have to do one key thing against the Nets: move the basketball. If the Spurs just share the ball and run their offense, they’ll be in position to play James Anderson and Cory Joseph at the end of the game. Ginobili will most likely come off the bench and see a few minutes, but he won’t be getting a heavy dose. I’m interested to see if both DeJuan Blair and Richard Jefferson can rebound in this game, they’ve both been very quiet in the month of February and their numbers are showing it as they’ve both dropped from scoring 10+ points per game.

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