It’s been a season full of ups and downs for the San Antonio Spurs. After a tough road contest on Monday, the Spurs get a comfortable matchup at home against the Brooklyn Nets.
It’s Star Wars night in San Antonio and the San Antonio Spurs will try to harness the force as they prepare to face the Brooklyn Nets tonight. The Spurs have been more Empire than Rebels over the past two decades, frequently finding themselves near the top of the Western Conference. Things are different now and the Spurs find themselves looking up and struggling to find ways to return to playoff contention.
San Antonio’s most recent game against the Rockets was a great summary of their performance this year as a whole. They had strong stretches of basketball, they took a 19 point lead into halftime. But inconsistent energy and poor play led to a -21 point differential in the second half and an eventual loss against an in-state rival.
Coming out fast and keeping that energy all game long needs to be the primary point of focus for the Spurs tonight. So far they’ve really only had a few games where they’ve been consistent in their effort from start to finish.
The best example would be the double-overtime win against the Rockets earlier this year. In that contest the whole team was diving for loose balls, playing aggressive and bothersome defense, and moving the ball like a San Antonio Spurs team should. It’s tough to see them play at that level for stretches and then regress so harshly at times.
One player who can be counted on to bring it from the jump is Dejounte Murray. He’s had back to back box score stuffing stars since being reinserted into the starting lineup on December 14th. He’s swatting shots, driving hard to the lane, and not backing down from anybody. He’s bringing the energy that the Spurs need.
After a difficult test against the Rockets, Murray will face another tough opponent tonight. No, not Kyrie Irving. It’s Spencer Dinwiddie who’s been leading the Nets and is Murray’s assignment tonight.
Dinwiddie is a big-bodied guard who can score from anywhere and is constantly setting his teammates up for success. He doesn’t have the kind of athleticism that grabs your attention right away but don’t doubt his ability to drop the hammer if he sees an opening. He’s a tough assignment and will test Murray throughout the night.
Another point to watch for will be how DeMar DeRozan responds to his benching at the end of the game in Houston. He had some pretty poor body language after he was yanked with just under five minutes left in the game. His friend and teammate Rudy Gay had his back afterward when he spoke to Tom Osborn with mySanAntonio.
“He’s a competitive guy and he wanted to be out there and you can’t fault him for that,” Gay said after practice. “Coach went in a different direction. No matter what, being a competitor, it’s not like you are looking down at your teammates or anything. He just wanted to be out there. And that’s what you want. It would be a problem if he didn’t want to be out there.”
It’s hard to disagree with what Gay said. You want your stars to want to be on the floor at the end of games, it’s where they’re supposed to be. DeRozan being ticked that he wasn’t out there to end the game is a good thing, that’s how he should feel. You just have to hope he uses this late-game benching as motivation for tonight rather than internalizing it and resenting the coaching staff.
Gameday bets and prediction
Spread: San Antonio Spurs -3
All betting information courtesy of The Action Network.
Take the Spurs and the over in this one. After an ugly second-half collapse led to the most recent road loss you’d hope that San Antonio comes out determined to not let the same thing happen again. I expect them to come out strong and to have one of their better games. They’ve shown that they can be dominant at times but now it’s time to put it all together and make a push to get back into the playoff picture.
It won’t be an easy win but it’s very achievable and would be a great step in the right direction. It should be a high scoring affair that will end up being close. As a fan that’s exactly the kind of game you love to see, and on Star Wars night too. The fans in attendance tonight should be in for a treat.