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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets

The Spurs hit the road for a weird SEGABABA against Nikola Jokic and the rejuvenated Denver Nuggets.

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

Well, this is certainly one of the weirder scheduling choices you’re sure to see all year! The Spurs, who played in San Antonio last night against the Clippers, boarded a plane to Denver not long after the conclusion of that game, and following tonight’s game, they’ll fly back home to San Antonio. Then, Monday will kick off a three-game homestand with a game on against…the Nuggets! Flying in on such short notice means the Spurs won’t have a lot of time to acclimate to the altitude that Denver is notorious for, but such is life for an NBA team.

The Nuggets come into this year looking to make a push in a shaky Western Conference with a rejuvenated roster. They came into the season fully healthy, as Jamal Murray is back in the fold after 18 months away with a torn ACL and 4th year forward Michael Porter Jr is making his return after missing all but 9 games last season with a back issue. Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green are still there doing their thing, and the front office added Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the off-season to be a 3-D guy to run with the starters and space the floor like he did for the Lakers during their Bubble Run.

All of it, though, revolves around the reigning MVP, center Nikola Jokic. The Joker has been solid out the gate, averaging what would be a career-best 9 assists a night. He’s appeared to be trying to bring the rest of this team along, something that may be playing a part in his shot attempts being down so far this season to a mere 12 FGA, 6 off the 18 FGA he averaged during each of his last two (MVP) seasons.

Given the circumstances, this has all the hallmarks of a potential dud. However, these Spurs have played the part of a resilient bunch through 9 games, and if they can keep the turnovers down and bother Jokic a bit, maybe they’ll pull out what would be the biggest win of the season to this point.

San Antonio Spurs (5-4) at Denver Nuggets (5-3)

November 5, 2022 | 8:00 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Romeo Langford (Questionable — Toe), Isaiah Roby (Questionable — Illness), Blake Wesley (Out — MCL), Charles Bassey (Out — Two-Way), Dominick Barlow (Out — Two-Way)

Nuggets Injuries: Zeke Nnaji (Day-to-Day — Ankle), Bones Hyland (Questionable — Hip); Ish Smith (Questionable — Calf); Collin Gillespie (Out — Leg),

What to watch for

  • Nikola Jokic made a bit of history on Thursday night. The reigning 2-time league MVP, who is nearly averaging a triple-double over the first 2 weeks of the young season, broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for career triple-doubles for a center Thursday night with his 80th in Denver’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He finished that game with 15 points (just 9 FGA), 13 rebounds, and 14 assists. Those 14 assists, though, came at the cost of 10 turnovers.
  • Don’t be surprised Pop to sit some guys, namely Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell. Both made their return last night against the Clippers, which could mean an off night for injury management from the ever-cautious Gregg Popovich.
  • Jamal Murray is coming off back to back 20-point scoring nights for the first time in 2 years, going for 21 against the Lakers and 24 against the Thunder. His numbers are down from before the injury, but Denver is clearly still bringing him along slowly and smartly. Perphaps more significant than the scoring, then, is that the last two games have seen him crack the 30 minute mark for the first time this season.
  • The Spurs need to be as clean with the ball as possible if they want to stay in games, which is admittedly tough with the quality of ball handlers and offensive initiators that are currently on the roster. Denver is middle of the pack in forcing opponent turnovers, but that could change if San Antonio turns it over the way they have so far this season.

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

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