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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs @ Denver Nuggets

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After blowing out Utah at home and winning their third in a row, the Spurs head to Denver to face another Western Conference lottery team.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio SpursDenver Nuggets

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
January 20, 2015, 8:00 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

In a season that's had less peaks and more valleys, the Spurs are trending upward as they head to the mile-high air of Colorado. They'll face a Nuggets team that came into the season in a tough position, with perhaps loftier aspirations than the personnel could achieve.

At 18-23, the Nuggets don't have a realistic chance at the postseason in this year's Western Conference, but that doesn't mean they're not dangerous. They beat Dallas last week and throttled the Grizzlies, 114-85, a few games before that.

Denver will be on the second of a back-to-back after losing in Golden State Monday afternoon. I'm not sure if that'll keep speed-demon Ty Lawson's foot off the gas a bit more than usual, but it couldn't hurt. Lawson's quietly having a great year, averaging 17 points and 10 assists, while playing a career-high 37.3 minutes per game. He is however having the worst three-point-shooting season of his career, and keeping his game on the perimeter should be part of the team's scouting report. That is, unless Pop hasn't scouted this team, either:

Aside from Lawson, the most interesting player on the Nuggets roster right now (no disrespect to Team USA member Kenneth Faried) might be rookie Jusuf Nurkic. The Timofey Mozgov trade opened things up for Nurkic. Google his name and this is probably what you'll learn: Nurkic is just 20-years-old; he's from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and his dad is even bigger than he is.

Nurkic looks like he'll hang around the league for a while, as long as he can learn to stay out of foul trouble. He moves well on the offensive end and already has a decent 15-to-18-foot jumpshot, which helps a bit with the spacing alongside human-pogo-stick Faried.

The Nuggets offense isn't especially pretty to watch. There are stretches where it seems to depend on Lawson's unique ability to stop-and-go his way to the hoop and see what he can create. He's too small to take full advantage of it, though, and the lack of movement by his teammates doesn't help.

San Antonio won the last matchup in Denver, 99-91. They were without Tony Parker then, and Kawhi Leonard put up a ridiculous line of 18-8-4-5-6. The Nuggets will benefit from having Faried this time around, but I don't see this game being too close if the Spurs continue their recent level of play.

Matchup to watch: Sparkles vs. the Manimal -- if for no other reason than the juxtaposition of these two nicknames. Really though, negating Kenneth Faried's energy and offensive rebounding is one way to keep this game under control. I can see a good game for Tiago on the other end as well, taking advantage of defensive breakdowns and getting some good looks around the rim.

vs.

Denver Nuggets (18-23)

San Antonio Spurs (26-16)

January 20, 2015

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

8:00 p.m. CST

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Ty Lawson

PG

Tony Parker

Arron Afflalo

SG

Danny Green

Wilson Chandler

SF

Kawhi Leonard

Kenneth Faried

PF

Tiago Splitter

Jusuf Nurkic

C

Tim Duncan


Game prediction: Spurs by 8.

Line in Vegas: Spurs by 8 1/2.

For the Nuggets' perspective, visit Denver Stiffs.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com