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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets

Opportunity awaits as the Spurs face an opponent their offense seems to have figured out.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After Sunday’s blowout win over Sacramento Kings, the Spurs will be looking to start a new winning streak tonight against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are coming in on a back-to-back after a last-second loss to the Boston Celtics at home last night, so the Spurs should be able to take advantage of one of the seemingly rare instances they will be more rested than their opponent.

San Antonio Spurs (33-19) vs. Denver Nuggets (26-24)

January 30, 2018 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (quad), Rudy Gay (heel)

Nuggets injuries: Paul Millsap (wrist), Wilson Chandler (illness, day-to-day)

The Spurs need more consistent performances on offense

Until recently, the Spurs have severely struggled on offense without two of their three top scorers, and it has often been one of, if not the deciding factor in the outcome of the game. To wit, in their ten most recent games in which they’ve recorded a 5-5 record, the Spurs have averaged 109.4 points in wins but only 85.4 points in losses. That’s a dramatic 24-point swing.

For the season, the Spurs are 26-2 when shooting an effective field goal percentage of 50% or above. The second-ranked defense has been consistently elite, which is even more proof that when the offense is clicking, the Spurs are almost unbeatable. However, they’ll need to start clicking more than an average every other game if they want to stave off the stack of teams nipping at their heals, which includes the eighth-seeded Nuggets.

Did the Clippers just toss the Nuggets a bone?

With the trade deadline a mere ten days away (Feb. 8), the first bombshell trade occurred last night, with the Los Angeles Clippers trading franchise cornerstone Blake Griffin, along with Brice Johnson and Willie Reed, to the Detroit Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and picks — and they’re reportedly not done overhauling the roster just yet.

With only five games (three if you only look at the loss column) currently separating the fourth-seeded Timberwolves and ninth place Clippers, the Nuggets have been hanging precariously close to the edge as the Clippers have been creeping ever so close to snatching the eight seed from them.

Now, with Clippers choosing to go into full-blown rebuild mode, and without any other real threat to make a run at the playoffs unless the 21-28 Utah Jazz make a mad dash now that Rudy Gobert is back, it looks like the Nuggets’ path to their first playoff appearance since 2013 just a got a little easier. Now it’s up to them to take advantage of the situation.

The last time they met

The Spurs and Nuggets previous meeting was a thrilling 112-80 thrashing of the Nuggets in the AT&T Center on January 13. The Spurs offense has been money against Nuggets below-average defense at home this season (including during the preseason), so a repeat of that performance would do the Spurs well before another showdown with the division-leading Houston Rockets on Thursday.

Oh, and this happened:

Vegas odds: Spurs by 6.5.

Game prediction: Spurs by 17.

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.