The Spurs 2018-19 season came to an end in a down-to-the-wire Game 7 that was marred by ugly offense on both sides, but the Denver Nuggets managed to do just enough to stave of a fourth quarter surge by the Spurs after a horrid first half of basketball and win 90-86.
Bryn Forbes and Rudy Gay were the bright spots on offense for the Spurs, combining for 40 points. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray scored 21 and 23 points for the Nuggets, respectively.
- Mike Malone continued to gripe about Jakob Poeltl and screens before the game, and Pop finally responded, saying there are illegal screens all the time from both sides, therefore it is irrelevant. Perhaps it was fitting then that the Nuggets were the first ones called for an illegal screen just 1:15 into the game. It was also the only illegal screen called the entire game.
- The Spurs started the game a little nonchalant, not really pushing to do anything on offense other than set up iso-ball for LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan (who combined to shoot just 3-18 in the first half). Pop brought in his bench earlier than usual in search of offense, but they were no better other than Gay finally getting something going and scoring their last nine points of the quarter. On the other hand, the Nuggets were predictably hyped up from the home crowd and played with some flare on offense. The results weren’t great but still was much better than the Spurs, and their aggressive style earned them some early free throws and two fouls a piece on Aldridge and Poeltl in the first quarter.
- The Spurs offense remained anemic in the second quarter, with even good looks swirling out. They remained fortunate that Denver was not much better. The Spurs made their living at the line in the second quarter by wisely attacking the rim when nothing else would fall, hitting all 10 free throws, and that was all that kept this game alive. The Spurs shot just 10-45 (22.7%) in the half but still managed to get within 7 a couple of times before the Nuggets ended the half on a 6-0 run.
- It took the Spurs less than 6 minutes match the five field goals they made in the previous two quarters, but their defense abandoned them as the Nuggets found little resistance in the paint to stretch the lead to 17 a couple of times. The Spurs kept fighting back, but an inability to hit consecutive shots kept them from getting any closer than 11.
- Feeling the desperation, the effort was there in the fourth quarter as the Spurs started working harder for good shots and making them at a better clip than the rest of the game. They got within four but couldn’t quite get enough stops or prevent enough offensive rebounds to make it all the way back.
- It may be hard to remember, but the Spurs were the 7th seed for a reason, and the Nuggets were the 2nd seed for a reason. The Spurs still gave them a heckuva fight in a series in which Denver was rightfully favored, and they never gave up until the final whistle. Inconsistency was their burden this season, and it showed in this series (even within games), but the future remains bright with Dejounte Murray coming back, Derrick White having a breakout year, Lonnie Walker IV should enter the rotation, and that’s just the beginning. It’s been an honor covering the Spurs for you this season, and I’ll see you again in October. (Not really. I’ll be here all summer.)
For the Denver fans’ perspective, visit Denver Stiffs.