The San Antonio Spurs will face the Denver Nuggets for the second night of a back-to-back set at Ball Arena. Wednesday saw the two ballclubs meet for the first game of their miniseries in Colorado, which resumes on Friday.
Winning 106-96 over the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets can win the season series with another victory at home. Nikola Jokic led his team with 25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. With Jamal Murray nursing a sore right knee that kept him from playing his last two games, it was Michael Porter Jr. who stepped in to back up Jokic with 18 points while adding 10 rebounds.
It was a measure of revenge for Jokic and company after they lost to the San Antonio Spurs 119-109 on Jan. 30.
Fixture - San Antonio Spurs vs Denver Nuggets | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Friday, April 9th, 9:00 PM ET (Saturday, April 10th, 6:30 AM IST)
Venue - Ball Arena, Denver, CO
San Antonio Spurs Preview
It has been a rough few weeks for coach Gregg Popovich’s squad after losing their fourth straight and ninth in 11 games. As they try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss, the San Antonio Spurs have to address their defensive issues after surrendering 132 points or more in four of their last 11 outings.
Despite losing to the Denver Nuggets, the 106 points they gave up was a massive improvement to the 125, 139 and 134 points their opponents torched them with in the previous three games. Now they have to start working on their offense, which has sputtered the past two games with an average of 98.5.
Key Player - DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan scoring in the high 20s or 30s doesn’t always guarantee a win. Mostly, it indicates that his teammates aren’t doing their job well. But the San Antonio Spurs have a better chance of winning when their best player can be relied on to give them an offensive boost.
In the Denver Nuggets game last Wednesday, DeRozan had 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting. The four-time All-Star has to be aggressive in looking for his shots, especially in the fourth quarter of close games.
As Ethan Farina of Air Alamo assessed:
“Up until this skid, DeMar was averaging 5.4 points and 1.2 assists per 4th quarter and was getting to the line an average of 2.5 times per period. Over the last ten games, he’s averaged 3.7 points, 0.8 assists, and 1.1 free throw attempts during the 4th.”
San Antonio Spurs Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Derrick White l Shooting Guard - Dejounte Murray l Small Forward - DeMar DeRozan l Power Forward - Keldon Johnson l Center - Jakob Poeltl
Denver Nuggets Preview
The Denver Nuggets are riding on a season-high seven straight wins, six of which occurred after Aaron Gordon first played on their team. Jokic’s MVP campaign is in full swing with his team in the spotlight heading into the match against the San Antonio Spurs.
While everyone is talking about the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers, the Denver Nuggets are sneaking up behind them. At 33-18, they are just a game behind the Clippers for third place in the Western Conference.
What’s also amazing about this streak is the fact that Murray didn’t play in the last two games and yet they keep winning. That’s due in large part to the number of weapons they have with six players averaging in double-figures.
If the San Antonio Spurs want to end the Denver Nuggets’ streak, they will have to stop them offensively. The Nuggets are second in offensive rating, however, which makes this a difficult undertaking.
Key Player - Nikola Jokic
The irony of the Denver Nuggets’ winning streak is that Nikola Jokic’s points and rebounds are down (22.4 points and 8.4 rebounds compared to 27.0 and 11.3 prior). But his assists are up (9.4 assists to 8.5) which means his teammates are doing their part and he’s finding them where they are most likely to score.
After MVP candidates Joel Embiid and LeBron James went down with injuries weeks ago, Jokic’s candidacy catapulted alongside the streak. He is as lethal an offensive weapon as any player in the game today because of his versatility.
Looking at the San Antonio Spurs roster, there’s practically no one on that squad that can stop him and that is big trouble for the visitors.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Facundo Campazzo l Shooting Guard - Will Barton l Small Forward - Michael Porter Jr. l Power Forward - Aaron Gordon l Center - Nikola Jokic
Spurs vs Nuggets Match Prediction
After giving up on LaMarcus Aldridge weeks ago, the San Antonio Spurs essentially surrendered their season. The former All-Star was probably the only player who could have matched up well with Jokic. Without him, the Denver Nuggets center will run rings around any player they send against him.
Expect this to be an easy win for the Denver Nuggets, who will take the season series and do so in a rout to the chagrin of the San Antonio Spurs.