The San Antonio Spurs took on the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night seriously undermanned. Coach Gregg Popovich sat Tim Duncan on the back end of a back-to-back, and Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were out due to injury. This should have set up a relatively easy win for the Nets, but it was anything but easy.
“I know we didn’t look pretty,” Popovich said. It wasn’t pretty, but the effort the Spurs showed was excellent as usual. Even with all four of their top scorers out, San Antonio managed to keep the game within five points with just over ten minutes left in the game. I’m not sure if it was the effort put forth by the Spurs or the poor play by the Nets that kept this game tight for so long.
The Nets did manage to win 103-89, but they just looked old and sloppy in doing so. The Nets are currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and have played well in the New Year. With the exception of the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat, the East is pretty weak and it showed tonight. Sure, the Spurs are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference currently, but everybody was hurt, even some guys on the floor (Did you see the face-masks on the floor?). The Nets are a veteran team that is going to have to dig deep if they plan to make a run in the East. They need wily old guys like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to show u,p and it would help if Deron Williams and Joe Johnson would do the same consistently.
The Spurs have to get healthy and they will. But even healthy, they need to figure out what is going on against the big boys in the West. San Antonio is 1-11 against the top six teams in the West and 35-3 now against everyone else. Beating up on the little guys and putting together a good regular season will only get you so far — ask Peyton Manning about that.
After all is said and done, tonight’s game just proved once again the disparity between the Eastern and Western Conferences as a whole. If the playoffs started right now, the Nets would take on the Heat. God help them.