Spurs vs. Nuggets preview: Time for a little revenge

Together...forever. Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan - Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

The Nuggets look to avenge an earlier blowout at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. Can the Nuggets learn to defend the three-point shot? Will the Gregg Popovich play any of his marquee names? These are the questions.

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2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 26


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19-7 (11-5 on the road)

13-12 (6-1 at home)
December 18, 2012,7:00 PM (MT)
Pepsi Center - Denver, Colorado
TV Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Tony Parker (maybe) PG Ty Lawson
Gary Neal (could be?) SG Andre Iguodala
Danny Green (potentially?) SF Danilo Gallinari
Tim Duncan (no clue at all?) PF Kenneth Faried
Tiago Splitter (sure...why not?) C Kosta Koufos
Notes
Pounding the Rock Blogs You're here.
Only Pop knows (seriously, it changes by the minute)
Injuries Wilson Chandler, Julyan Stone (out)
Spurs have played the second most road games in the NBA and they are 11-5. Stat Nuggets' four game home winning streak has come over the span of four weeks.

Gregg Popovich doesn't care about you. He doesn't care about David Stern. He doesn't even care about the feelings of his own players. He just ... doesn't ... care. He's Gregg Popovich ... b**ch! This is Pop's theme song (warning ... coarse language and keepin' it real is contained in this song).

The mercurial coach of the San Antonio Spurs didn't play Manu Ginobili (left quad contusion) in last night's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder (107-93). In fact, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker didn't even play the fourth quarter (thanks to a Thunder 82-64 lead through three quarters). Which means, most likely, Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker will play tonight. We just don't know yet. This is a second night of a back to back, heck, Pop may rest only the bench in this game and play his starters the entire game. Who knows at this point. He's Gregg Popovich ... and he doesn't care.

In the last meeting, a 126-100 beat down of the Denver Nuggets on November 17th in San Antonio, the Spurs hit and ungodly amount of three-point shots (16) ... because, you know, the Nuggets were a bit awful at defending the three. While the Nuggets have slightly improved their perimeter defense (and I do mean slightly) look for the Spurs to try to take advantage of the Nuggets weakest area (specifically Neal, Stephen Jackson and Manu, if they play) .

While the ever-steady Duncan and Parker will be the major focal point, the Nuggets defense will be a key issue in winning this contest. Pop has a way of looking at where the Nuggets are weakest and exploiting it over and over and over again. The last game against the Spurs was just a continuation of that. Popovich is the best coach in the league, and make no mistake this season (and maybe last season) has been about Pop's ability to maximize his roster and find a way to get the best out of the aging Tim Duncan. These are Duncan's stats so far this season:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 - Tim Duncan 25 30.2 6.8 13.6 49.9 0.1 0.2 50.0 3.5 4.4 79.1 1.8 8.3 10.1 2.4 1.6 0.8 2.5 1.8 17.1


Not bad for someone who is 956 years old. When I think about Duncan coming into the league a year after I graduated from high school it blows my mind (also it makes me feel quite old).

Even though the Spurs aren't rolling along as much as they were earlier in the season, they are still the ageless wonders and with good young players like Kawhi Leonard (injured, maybe for real) and Danny Green; it seems like our days of discounting the Spurs because of age needs to end.

None of that has to do with today's game, because we have no idea who will play. Stupid Pop.

Nuggets of Wisdom

-The Nuggets have a four game winning streak at home. This winning streak started four weeks ago. This also tells you how few home games the Nuggets have played this season, and the daunting task it has been for this team to gel with being on the road so much. By the time this month (December) is over, the Nuggets will have played 22 of their first 32 games of the season on the road. Amazing.

-We tend to get hysterical every time the Nuggets win or lose, it's part of being a fan I suppose. It's hard to ride the emotional roller coaster and keep perspective, and if we are going to credit George Karl for anything this season ... it's keeping perspective on this season. While I have serious questions about the dribble drive offense and the players the Nuggets have running it ... it is fair to say that the lack of in season practice time due to the road schedule has hampered further development of this team. There are rays of sunshine.

-Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee have made significant improvements over where they were at the beginning of the season. JaVale has played more within himself (despite his penchant for unintended comedy) and Gallo has increased his shooting percentage while managing to still create and make plays. My frustration has come from the fact that the Nuggets don't seem to run any plays for Gallo ... and that he's constantly left to "go it alone". If the Nuggets actually bothered to run Gallo off of screens or get him the ball in space we may have our 20 point per game scorer.

-Meanwhile, Andre Iguodala finally had himself a couple of good games after basically taking the eastern road swing off. Ty Lawson is still lagging behind a bit, but he's finally starting to hit that mid range jumper we talked about earlier in the season. All in all, these things are still a work in progress. With the emergence of Jordan Hamilton and the continued revelation at how good Evan Fournier is (when he gets to play) maybe there's some reason for optimism after all?

Go Nuggets!!

***

Denver Nuggets Tickets

Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78

mortonagency@juno.com

Be sure and listen to Les Shapiro and Tom Nalen every Monday-Friday on 102.3 ESPN from Noon to 3 pm.

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