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Game preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets

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The Spurs take on another up-and-coming Western Conference team in the Denver Nuggets, winners of three straight.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic is exploding onto the scene. He’s averaging 22.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 3-pointers, 0.7 steals and 61.4 percent shooting in his last nine games. He dropped 30 points and 11 rebounds in a win Monday night against Orlando and followed with 29 points and 15 rebounds in a win Tuesday night against the Lakers. Jokic’s per-36 averages are ridiculous (20-12-5, with 59.1 percent shooting).

Jokic is one of two rotation players for Denver that have a positive net rating when he’s on the floor (Gary Harris is the other). The Nuggets are outscoring teams by 4.4 points per 100 possessions — including a gaudy 113.2 offensive rating — when Jokic is on the floor. When he sits, Denver has been outscored by nine points per 100 possessions.

He has the most career win shares in his draft class, which includes Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart.

Without Jokic, Denver might be vying for the top pick in next year’s draft. Instead, the Nuggets would be the eighth seed in the playoffs if they started today.

Denver’s offense has risen from 20th in offensive efficiency last year to ninth this year, ahead of division rivals in Utah and Minnesota. Which is good because the Lakers are the only team with a worse defense on a per-possession basis.

The Nuggets visit the Alamo City on a three-game winning streak, in which they are averaging 130.7 points per game.

San Antonio is favored by double-digits Thursday night, but stopping Denver’s offense won’t be easy for the league’s third-ranked defense. Not with Jokic setting the world on fire.

San Antonio Spurs (32-9) vs. Denver Nuggets (17-23)

Jan. 19, 2016, 7:30 CST

Watch: FSSW; Listen: 1200 AM WOAI

Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (ankle)

Nuggets injuries: Darrell Arthur (leg), Gary Harris (ankle)



Vegas line: Spurs by 12.5

Game prediction: Spurs by 8.

For the Nuggets fans’ perspective, visit Denver Stiffs.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.