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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets

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The Spurs hit the road for the first of two match-ups this week in the Mile High City with the Denver Nuggets.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

At 31-18, the Denver Nuggets are enjoying another strong season behind the dominant play of center Nikola Jokic and a pass-heavy offense that ranks among the best in the league. Winners of 14 of their last 17, including 4 straight since the acquisition of Slam Dunk champion Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline, they’re coming off a game against Gordon’s former team where they trailed by 18 points at halftime before flipping the script and dominating Orlando with a 72-44 second half run. With a little less than 6 weeks to go in the regular season, there’s still time for Denver to move up into a higher seed than their currently-ranked 4th position, as well as create some distance between themselves and a struggling Los Angeles Lakers team that beat them in the Western Conference Finals last season.

Tonight’s game will be the first of a two game set from the Mile High City for the Spurs, who come into this game reeling. They’re 2-8 in their last 10, the majority of which came while playing at home, and are dangerously close to falling out of those 7-10 spots that would at least ensure them a play-in opportunity to make the playoffs. They’ll have their hands full tonight trying to right the ship against one of the best teams the Association has to offer. San Antonio actually won the first meeting between the two ball clubs 119-109, back in late January.

San Antonio Spurs (24-24) at Denver Nuggets (31-18)

April 7, 2021 | 8:00 PM CST

Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Keita Bates-Diop (Out — Hamstring), Lonnie Walker IV (Out — Wrist), Trey Lyles (Out —Ankle)

Nuggets Injuries: None

What to watch for

  • Nikola Jokic has had a monster season to this point for Denver. He’s averaging career highs in pretty much every significant counting stat there is with ridiculous efficiency to boot. The Nuggets have made the 7 footer out of Serbia the hub of their offense and he’s stepped up, averaging 26 points and nearly 9 assists per game for the season, with 12 triple doubles on the year. Jakob Poeltl and Gorgui Dieng will have their hands full trying to contain Jokic, who is coming off a game this week against Orlando where he dished out 16 assists.
  • The Spurs were horrendous at guarding looks from 3 all throughout the 9 game homestand. San Antonio has struggled to defend the 3-point line all season long, relying instead on limiting opportunities for opposing offenses, but the bottom has really fallen out as of late. While they did their usual thing in limiting looks from 3, San Antonio allowed their opponents to shoot 42% overall from long distance during the 9 game homestand. For comparison, the Sacramento Kings, who are the worst team in the league in opponent 3PT%, allow teams to shoot 39% against them.
  • Denver was intent on adding Aaron Gordon to their roster at the trade deadline and have to be pleased so far. Denver is 4-0 since the trade and Gordon has played extremely well. He adds another cutter to Jokic’s already dizzying array of options while also giving them a big and athletic defensive option that can cover both frontcourt and backcourt players alike.
  • Michael Porter Jr. was well worth both the wait and risk for Denver. The Nuggets ask Porter Jr. to score the ball and grab rebounds, both of which he does extremely well for them. At 16.7 points per game in just his second year, the 6’10 forward is Denver’s third leading scorer behind only Jokic and Jamal Murray as well as their 2nd best rebounder behind only the Joker. When they met in January, Porter Jr, who is now a starter, was still coming off the bench for the Nuggets and playing far less minutes than he does now.

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

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