Spurs vs. Nets Preview: Will San Antonio's Offense Score Enough?

Senior NBA editor Malik Smith previews Sunday's early matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets.

Spurs vs. Nets Odds

Spurs Odds +10
Nets Odds -10
Over/Under 225
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The San Antonio Spurs travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets in a matinee matchup on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center. The Spurs are playing the sixth game of a seven-game road trip and both teams are playing the front end of a back-to-back set.

How should bettors approach this early afternoon tip? Let’s take a look at both sides of this matchup.

>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

 Can Shorthanded Spurs Ramp Up Their Offense?

If there’s one thing the Spurs (and the NBA as a whole, really) haven’t been able to maintain, it’s momentum. They started off the season horribly with a 4-13 record, before finding their footing a bit and winning 10 of their next 15 games. Then things took a turn back in the other direction — they enter this game having lost five of their past six games.

Like most teams, the Spurs have had a number of players in and out of the lineup due to health and safety protocols, and they will have a bunch of starters and rotation guys out in this one, too. Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Devin Vassell, Dough McDermott and Tre Jones are listed as out on the injury report due to protocols.

One player who just returned from protocols and will be on the floor is point guard Dejounte Murray. He’s been an absolute rising star in San Antonio this season and picked up right where he left off before being sidelined, averaging 24.5 points and 10.5 assists in his two games back. Murray will have to shoulder an even heavier load for a Spurs offense that has struggled to reach 100 points in its past two games.

The Spurs were already middle of the pack in terms of Offensive Rating this season — they rank 18th scoring 109.9 point per 100 — and they won’t have three of their top-five scorers in Brooklyn. As good as Murray has been, the Spurs will need superhuman efforts from their role players to keep pace in this game.

Nets Slipping Despite Their Star Power

The Nets are mired in a mini slump of their own over the past few games. They’ve lost four of their past five games, including a shellacking at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

Few teams have had the type of luck the Nets had this season dealing with COVID-related absences — they had three consecutive postponements leading into their Christmas Day game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now they have James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (technically) back on the floor for them. The latter of the those three won’t be available for this game — or any home games for the foreseeable future — and LaMarcus Aldridge is questionable to play with a foot injury.

This matchup should be a good opportunity for the Nets to get back on track. They thrive in the mid-range — largely because of Kevin Durant — where they rank first in the NBA in shooting accuracy per Cleaning the Glass. Conversely the Spurs, who don’t defend particularly well from any area of the floor, are especially poor at guarding the mid-range — they allow the fifth-highest shooting percentage on such shots.

Spurs-Nets Pick

When I previewed Grizzlies-Nets earlier this week, I pointed out how bad the Nets are as home favorites this season, and they failed to cover their next two games as home favorites.

The Nets have a ton of advantages in this matchup, but that trend combined with the early start and a game on Monday give me pause that they’ll attempt to keep their starters in too long if this game is out of hand entering the fourth. That said, I’m staying away from the spread here and focusing on the total.

I expect the Nets to get the type of shots they want all night against a depleted and less talented Spurs team. But as I noted above, scoring has been a struggle for Gregg Popovich’s team lately.

The over/ under for this game opened at 225 on FanDuel and I think that’s a touch too high. I think there’s value on the under here and I’d bet it down to 222 points.

Pick: Under 225