NBA Picks: Nets Stay Close to Spurs Says Expert Senior Sports Handicapper Matt Rivers has a free pick Friday is on the New Jersey Nets (+11.5) at San Antonio.

Rivers reasoning: I’m on a little bit of a fade San Antonio kick and it paid off in the first game after the All-Star break and I’m going to go back to that well today.

Obviously New Jersey is not close to what the Spurs are and may never be. But I do believe that Greg Popovich’ squad is going to run out of gas a bit here as the season starts to wind down and to get around a dozen points, even with the Nets, is enough to give it a go.

I love Deron Williams and I can see him make a splash early on. Throw in a quality big man in Brook Lopez and New Jersey should be at least competitive in most games now. They definitely don’t match up with the big three in Parker, Ginobili and Duncan but it’s not like those guys are kids anymore and aren’t going to play 48 minutes apiece. We’ll see some good but not great players like Neal and Blair and Jefferson in the mix who certainly can hold their own and help lead the Spurs to the victory but Pop’s squad is not 46-10 good and I’ll take my chances with the competent enough Nets to stay within single digits.

This could be a 15 point game at the half, that’s certainly not out of the realm, but in typical NBA fashion we could without a doubt get the back door as Avery Johnson keeps his starters, including Williams, in longer as they try and get some time together and get in a rhythm. All in all the Spurs aren’t as good as their record and I’ll take my chances with the Nets and their new superstar point guard.

Top expert pick on this game: Nets against the spread.

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