The New Jersey Nets will kick off the Deron Williams era Friday night on the road against the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs. The Nets will hope their new point guard will be able to put the brakes on a three game losing streak.
How important is this game? Owner Mikhail Prokhorov is making a surprise trip to Texas in order to watch his team play for the first time on the road.
Before the All-Star break -- and the trade for Williams from the Utah Jazz -- the Nets lost to the Boston Celtics 94-80. Brook Lopez led the way in defeat with 18 points, while the since-departed Devin Harris added 16 and Anthony Morrow had 14.
The Spurs have won seven of their last 10, including an impressive 102-85 victory over the Nets on Feb. 14. At 47-10, San Antonio easily owns the NBA's best record and is a nearly-perfect 26-2 at home and hasn't lost at the AT&T Center in nearly three months.
Along with Williams, the Nets are expected to debut a brand new starting lineup with the exception of Lopez against the Spurs. Sasha Vujacic and Damion James should start at shooting guard and small forward, respectively, while Morrow and Travis Outlaw will come off the bench. Also, Kris Humphries returns to the starting lineup in place of Derrick Favors.
The Nets have lost 15 of 16 to the Spurs.