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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets

Can the Silver and Black kick off their final road trip with a much-needed dub as they inch closer towards the play-in?

Denver Nuggets v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs rolled past the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night as they ended their three-game homestand with a much-needed victory. Although the good guys had the luxury of facing a terrible team inside the comfortable confines of the AT&T Center, their impending opponent should give them a legitimate challenge.

The Silver and Black now depart from the 2-1-0 for their final road trip of the season as they visit the fifth-place Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and company are still searching for a way to secure homecourt advantage for the playoffs. San Antonio is two wins away from punching their ticket into the play-in tournament, so expect a free-for-all.

San Antonio Spurs (33-45) @ Denver Nuggets (47-32)

April 5, 2022 | 8:00 PM CT

Watch: CW35 | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

DraftKings Odds: Spurs +7, O/U 235

Spurs Injuries: Doug McDermott (Out — Ankle), Robert Woodard II (Out — Two Way), D.J. Stewart (Out — Two Way), Dejounte Murray (Out — Illness), Jock Landale (Out — Foot), Romeo Langford (Questionable — Heel)

Nuggets Injuries: Michael Porter Jr. (Out — Back), Jamal Murray (Out — Knee), Zeke Nnaji (Out — Knee), Vlatko Cancar (Out — Foot)

What To Watch For

  • Dejounte Murray will miss a third straight game on Tuesday evening as he recovers from an upper respiratory illness. But San Antonio has continued rolling without their All-Star. Tre Jones has been fantastic with Murray on the sidelines, notching 18 points, seven boards, and seven assists against the Blazers last time out. The 22-year-old floor general has averaged 13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in eight games as a spot starter this season, impressive nightly numbers for a second-rounder. Jones has also shot 50.6% from the field in those contests. He has displayed craft at the rim, touch on floaters, and an aptitude for taking care of the rock. His 4.9:1 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks third out of the 599 players that have suited up in the NBA in 2021-2022. Being undersized with limited shooting range undeniably caps his value, though Tre has been more willing to launch an open three as of late. The Nuggets will probably provide more resistance than an openly tanking Portland team, so this matchup should be a solid litmus test for the youngster.
  • Nikola Jokic looks like he may be well on his way to a second consecutive regular-season MVP, and he has only fortified his candidacy over the last month. The skilled seven-footer has averaged 31.4 points, 13.3 boards, 8.1 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game on 63.5% shooting during that stretch while leading Denver to the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Being on pace to win 50 games is a remarkable accomplishment, but it is all the more impressive considering Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have been on the shelf for 99.9% of the season. No team can fully contain Jokic, so don’t be too shocked if Jokic has his way with Jakob Poeltl and Zach Collins inside the paint. While throwing double teams at your run-of-the-mill center might frazzle them into coughing up the rock, the Joker is one of the most adept distributors in the NBA. He is more than capable of leveraging his scoring gravity to create passing windows. The Spurs can’t afford to leave Will Barton, Davon Reed, Monte Morris, Bones Hyland, or Bryn Forbes uncovered on the perimeter.
  • Keldon Johnson has been nothing short of outstanding for San Antonio as they approach the end of their season. The six-five forward has averaged 23.3 points, 5.8 boards, and 3.0 assists on stellar .485/.426/.828 shooting splits across his last six games. Keldon has scored at least 20 points in six straight contests, which moves him into second place behind Tim Duncan for the longest streak of such games by a player 22-years-old or younger in franchise history. Big Body has expanded his repertoire from a straight-line driver into a multifaceted offensive threat in one year, and Spurs fans should be ecstatic to watch him develop further. His elite standstill three-point marksmanship has opened driving opportunities, and those downhill assaults on the rim have turned into playmaking chances. Aaron Gordon is one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA, and it should be intriguing to see how Keldon responds to his air-tight coverage on Tuesday night.

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