It felt like the Brooklyn Nets’ season hit rock bottom the last time they faced the San Antonio Spurs. On New Year’s Eve, the Nets scored a franchise-low five third-quarter points and lost 104-73. The two teams will meet again on Sunday night at Barclays Center. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
PLAYING BETTER: The Nets are 3-5 in their past eight games, averaging 88.5 points and 15.9 turnovers over that stretch. Brooklyn is in desperate need of playing a consistent 48-minute game. Lucky for the Nets, the Spurs are likely to be without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who are both doubtful. Still, San Antonio, which owns an NBA-best 39-12 record, has fared just fine without them, winning 11 of 12. By no means is this game going to be an easy out.
HISTORY SAYS: The Spurs will win this one. San Antonio is 17-1 against Brooklyn over the oast 10 seasons, the best record of any NBA team versus a particular opponent over that span. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Spurs are 7-6 in regular-season games since 2002-03 without Duncan and Ginobili. Tony Parker is averaging 27 points and 8.3 assists in those games.
SECOND-QUARTER WOES: The Nets have been outscored 111-61 combined in the second quarter of their past four games. Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said he plans to tweak his rotation in order to avoid these second-quarter collapses. Look for Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez to sit earlier in the first quarter so they can come back earlier in the second.