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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets

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The Spurs head to Mile High in the hopes of getting their first win of the Rodeo Road Trip.

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2019-2020 edition of the Rodeo Road Trip is off to a disappointing start. Halfway through the yearly trip, the Spurs are now 0-4 after falling completely apart in the second half against the Sacramento Kings Saturday night in a game that they were favored in. They’re 22-30 on the year and as the losses pile up, their hopes of sneaking in as an 8th seed and keeping their playoff streak alive fade.

The grind keeps on, however, and the schedule does not get any easier. They head to the Mile High City tonight for their first meeting of the year with last year’s playoff opponent, the Denver Nuggets. Denver is once again having a great season under head coach Mike Malone with a 37-16 record, just 2 games behind the 1 seeded Los Angeles Lakers and tied in the loss column with the other team from Los Angeles, the Clippers.

With Denver holding one of the best home records in the NBA (20-6), the Spurs will have their work cut out for them if they want to snap their latest losing streak and pick up their first win on the Rodeo Road Trip.

San Antonio Spurs (22-30) at Denver Nuggets (37-16)

February 10, 2020 | 8:00 PM CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: None

Nuggets Injuries: Mason Plumlee (ankle — OUT), Michael Porter Jr. (Ankle — day to day), Will Barton (knee — day to day)

What to watch for

  • Denver is ranked 3rd in the league in offensive rebounds per game, with an average of 11.2. Offensive rebounds lead to even more scoring opportunities for a team and this is especially important for a Nuggets team that ranks 29th in the league in pace (estimate of the number of possessions per 48 by a team). The Spurs, by contrast, are the 7th best DEFENSIVE rebounding team in the league, pulling in an average of 36 defensive boards a game. They’ll need to keep Denver off the glass if they want to limit Denver’s damage.
  • Nikola Jokic is once again having a phenomenal season. With per game averages of 20.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists (against 3 turnovers), the 24-year old Serbian center was recently named to his 2nd consecutive All Star game, as a reserve for Team LeBron. What has been equally as impressive as his numbers is his availability. Jokic has been the only Nugget to suit up for every game, an impressive achievement considering the talk early in the season by the media about how out of shape he supposedly looked. He is at the center (literally) of all that the Nuggets do and his ability to be their main playmaker takes a lot of that burden off of guard Jamal Murray. The Spurs’ bigs will have to bring their A-game if they want to limit the guy that just did this to reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert:
  • As I’m sure you remember, Derrick White had his national coming out party through the first 3 games of last year’s 7-game first round series against Denver, helping the Spurs steal Game 1 with 16 points and a vicious slam on Paul Millsap before putting on a 36-point show in Game 3. He’s had mostly a quiet year, with most of his per game stats looking more or less the same as they did last season, though he is playing a few less minutes per game. Here’s to hoping we get to see something close to this tonight:

For the Nuggets fan’s perspective, please visit Denver Stiffs.

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.