Nets vs. Spurs: Brooklyn Closing Out Season At Home

After Tuesday night’s 115-107 win against Chicago, the Nets are 45-24 with three games remaining in the regular season, all at Barclays Center, beginning with the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. It’s the second half of a back-to-back, following up a five-game road trip. Another back-to-back will conclude the regular season, with the Bulls and Cavaliers due in Brooklyn this weekend.

With Milwaukee winning in Orlando on Tuesday night, the Nets have a one-game lead in the battle for the No. 2 seed, which would determine home-court advantage in a potential second-round playoff matchup between the two teams.

“I think the No. 1 thought and priority as a staff is health over seeding,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash after practice on Monday afternoon. “But that doesn't mean we're 1000 percent in on health over seeding. It's just a matter of how these games play out how our team responds, how guys look and feel and also frankly what our guys want to do. What makes them feel confident, what they need out of these last games? So there's a lot of factors, lot of variables, and we're right now, just kind of monitoring the situation like I said, assessing day-to-day and then we'll have to make some decisions obviously by tomorrow night and thereafter. But right now it's kind of still up for us to decide based on many parameters.”

Nash has preferred not to play Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin in both ends of back-to-backs, though he has done so with Griffin recently. He said after Tuesday’s game that it was a possibility that Durant and Griffin could play against San Antonio.

“As far as how we strategize these last games, like I said, I couldn't commit to anything because I think we want to consider various factors within our group, within our playoff prep, our health and just the big picture,” said Nash. “So, we're going to have to monitor and decide and assess as we go here what the plan is and right now, we haven't decided. We have different contingencies, but we haven't decided what we're going to go with.”

Meanwhile, the Nets are also awaiting the return of James Harden, who has been practicing with the team as he takes the final steps of his return from a hamstring strain. Both Harden and Nash have said they expect him to play before the end of the regular season.

“We still don't know for sure, but I think, we're in the position we thought we'd be in where James would be ready either at the end of the regular season or to start the playoffs but nothing is set in stone,” said Nash. “We know what this season has been like. We'll be grateful if we can have a full complement of players available and start building and be prepared for the playoffs. But we still, I completely 100 percent, just the nature of this league and there was obviously in the back of your mind a thought of what if this doesn't come together? And the fear of that event. But I think right now we feel pretty positive and optimistic that we're close and we're in a good place.”


Tuesday night’s game in Chicago brought another wrinkle to Brooklyn’s menu of availability questions as Kyrie Irving took an elbow to the face from Nikola Vucevic early in the third quarter and did not return to the game.

“No signs of a concussion,” said Steve Nash. “He had an x-ray which was inconclusive so we’ll really just have to look again in the morning. Probably be rescanned and all that when we get home and we’ll take it from there.”


Bruce Brown took a hit to the head as well at Monday’s practice, and after initially being ruled as questionable, was upgraded to available on Tuesday morning. Brown put up 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, grabbed the game’s final rebound to lock up a double-double with 10 boards, and had three assists as well.

It was the 34th start of the season for Brown, who has carved out a unique role as a guard who often plays like a big man on offense. He’s averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game and shooting 54.8 percent.

“Well, he's a solution for us,” said Steve Nash. “He’s a Swiss Army knife, so to speak. He can guard multiple positions, he does the dirty work. His physicality and competitive nature I think are a big add to our group. He gets offensive rebounds, he can be a pick-and roll-guy. He makes the odd 3, he's a good free throw shooter. So he does a lot of things for us, and can kind of plug a lot of holes. So he's just a really versatile player for us. And that's not necessarily what I expected; I didn't know a ton about him when we got him to be honest enough. It's been fantastic to see him evolve into this role.”


While working through a pair of 10-day contracts, Mike James has filled a significant role as Brooklyn’s backup point guard while James Harden has been sidelined. When the Nets lost Kyrie Irving two minutes into the second half on Tuesday night, James went the final 22 minutes and ended up with his longest stint as a Net — 27 minutes, with 11 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

“I knew he was going to the bench,” said James. “They never told me that I was going to finish the game. I think I just kind of – people kept subbing in and I just kept staying in, but it’s a way different approach because normally because when I come out, I try to not hold any energy back and just kind of pick up full court, push the pace a lot. And, you know, I’m like a 10 minute per game guy so that’s a big difference from 26 minutes, so it’s a different approach in that respect.”


The Spurs are 33-35 and in 10th place in the Western Conference. The Nets won the season’s first meeting, 124-113 in overtime in San Antonio on March 1. The Spurs commit the second-fewest turnovers in the league (11.4) and allow the second-fewest points off turnovers (14.1). While the Spurs are 18th in rebounds per game (43.8) they are 26th in rebounds percentage (48.2), including 28th in offensive rebound percentage (24.0), leaving them 27th in second chance points (12.0). San Antonio attempts the fewest 3-pointers in the league (28.6) and makes the second fewest (10.2) while ranking 20th in 3-point percentage (35.5). DeMar DeRozan leads the Spurs with 21.5 points per game and 7.1 assists per game.