The Brooklyn Nets haven’t beaten the San Antonio Spurs since March 29, 2010. But they’ll have opportunity to change that Thursday night, when they take on the short-handed Spurs at Barclays Center. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
NO LETDOWNS: The Spurs (36-13) are already missing Tony Parker (back), Manu Ginobili (hamstring) and Kwahi Leonard (finger), and could also be without Tim Duncan. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has said Duncan will play, but the 37-year-old logged 40 minutes in the team’s double-overtime victory over the Washington Wizards Wednesday night. So we’ll just have to wait and see if Popovich decides to change his mind. The Spurs have won without their Big Three before, the latest example being a Dec. 19 road triumph over the Golden State Warriors, so the Nets (21-25) can’t afford to take them lightly.
GETTING REINFORCEMENTS: Joe Johnson (knee), Andray Blatche (hip) and Andrei Kirilenko (calf) are all expected to play for the Nets, giving them a full compliment of players. The return of Blatche and Kirilenko will certainly help their bench, which wasn’t as productive due to their absence.
S DOT: Shaun Livingston has been tremendous the last three games, averaging 17.7 points on 57.1 percent shooting. The last time the two teams played, the Spurs won in blowout fashion, 113-92, in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve. But Brooklyn has gone 11-4 since that loss, turning its season around.