San Antonio Spurs @ Denver NuggetsPepsi Center, Denver, CO
March 28, 2014, 8:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
The Spurs won their 15th game in a row on Wednesday night, outlasting a Denver Nuggets team that made a run in the second half and almost erased what was once a 24-point lead for San Antonio. The Spurs committed too many turnovers down the stretch, but it was probably the defensive effort that frustrated Gregg Popovich the most. A win is a win, however, and with that win, the streak moves to 15, and the Spurs are three full games in front of Oklahoma City for the first seed in the upcoming Western Conference playoffs.
Despite the almost-collapse and the historic significance of winning 15 games in a row, the biggest news to come out of the win over Denver was the injury to Danny Green. Danny revealed that the injury originated in the weekend matchup against Golden State, and the foot issues eventually forced him to leave the game and to be seen with a walking boot on during post-game interviews. As of now, no official word has been released on the extent of the injury, but it is safe to assume that San Antonio will be cautious down the stretch of the regular season in order to be fully healthy for the playoffs.
San Antonio now travels to Denver to face the Nuggets for the second time in three days. The interesting part of the equation will be what Popovich does with his lineup because tonight's game against the Nuggets is the first of a back-to-back that finishes with a home contest against New Orleans. Popovich usually rests his main guys in the second game of the back-to-back, but with the Spurs already having faced Denver this week, he may choose to sit one or two guys against Denver and then a different set of players against New Orleans.
No matter what the official lineup looks like against Denver, San Antonio needs to do a better job on interior defense. Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov led the way for the Nuggets, each recording a double-double in the game and the two combining for 38 points and 21 rebounds. Ty Lawson played 35 minutes in the game, but it was the play of backup point guard Aaron Brooks that really sparked the Nuggets comeback attempt. Brooks played 31 minutes off the bench and racked up a stat line of 25 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Denver was plus-12 when he was on the floor.
Brooks wasn't the only player off of the bench to provide a spark for Denver. Power forward Darrell Arthur was plus-11 in 30 minutes, scoring nine points to go along with four rebounds, four steals, and three blocks. Evan Fournier provided 22 minutes off the bench at shooting guard as Randy Foye struggled from the floor.
San Antonio has been dominant against mediocre teams this season, but Denver is always a dangerous test because of its capabilities on offense. The Nuggets rank ninth in the NBA in points per game, scoring 103.8 a night. San Antonio held Denver to that average on Wednesday, but if the defensive effort had been there for the Spurs in the second half, it could have been an easy game to lock up. Instead, the Spurs had to fight down the stretch, even though it may be a good thing for a Spurs team that hasn't been tested all month. April's schedule is tougher, and there is something to be said about being in a few dog fights down the stretch as the playoffs approach.
The Nuggets are also a very good rebounding team, ranking fourth in total rebounds per game. Denver does it mostly with effort and tenacity, and San Antonio didn't match that in the third and fourth quarters of the last meeting. Where the Nuggets really struggle is on defense, and that is what San Antonio exploited down the stretch on Wednesday to secure the victory. Denver allows 106 points a game, good for 28th in points allowed.
Key matchup: This could change based on what Gregg Popovich decides to do with his team on the first night of back-to-back, but no matter what, San Antonio has to keep Denver off the offensive glass. Slowing down the bench production is another key, but Denver feeds off second-chance baskets, especially at home.
Nuggets perspective can be found at Denver Stiffs.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 15.
Line in Vegas: Spurs by 6 1/2.
As always, Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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