Nuggets at Spurs: Nuggets look to get back on track against tough San Antonio team

"Tony Parker is fouled by Ty Lawson" - yeah, sure, whatever you say, Doug Pensinger. - Doug Pensinger

With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, the Nuggets need to use tonight's matchup with the top-seeded Spurs to fuel their push to the postseason.

2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 73
49-23 (17-20 on the road)
53-17 (30-4 at home)
March 27th, 2013 - 6:30 PM (MT)
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Ty Lawson PG Tony Parker
Andre Iguodala SG Danny Green
Danilo Gallinari SF Kawhi Leonard
Kenneth Faried PF Tim Duncan
Kosta Koufos C Tiago Splitter
Denver Stiffs Blogs Pounding the Rock
My heart, if Ty Lawson (heel, questionable) does not return tonight; Julyan Stone (knee)
Injuries Manu Ginobili (perpetually bruised tailbone)
George Karl spent his entire NBA career with the Spurs
Stat Duncan and Parker are the active NBA leaders with most wins as teammates (589)

It's fitting that spur is a very old word (ca. 1390), deriving from the Latin spura or spora, "to kick". This year's San Antonio Spurs are the 6th oldest team in the NBA - and anyone can sense the inevitability of age and injuries gradually catching up with them, sort of like a team saddled with an Amare Stoudemire contract. Yet without making panic moves like signing Kenyon Martin to any deal or trading for Joe Johnson, Spurs GM R.C. Buford has quietly been retooling this Spurs team for the next generation with an eye on one last run at the golden ball.

Continuing their tradition of home-grown talent, the Spurs have galvanized 2009 draft picks DeJuan "No ACLs" "Dancing Bear" Blair and speedy point Nando de Colo into serviceable bench contributors, while 2007 Brazillian draft pick Tiago Splitter has evolved into the team's starting center. They managed to turn George Hill into Kawhi Leonard, a Kenneth Faried-lite that can nail the 3 pointer. Even as "The Big Three" of Parker, Duncan and Ginobili crumble into dust, the Spurs have won 50 or more games every season since 1999 (a lockout shortened season) - including this one. As much as the rest of the NBA has desperately tried to convince themselves that this is the year the Spurs will start declining, it just hasn't happened.

You'd need to go all the way back to 1996-1997 - the year before Tim Duncan was drafted, natch - to find a Spurs team that wasn't in the running for the top seed in the Western conference. No matter how you slice it, the Spurs are an incredibly well-run organization with literally decades of experience on how to stay competitive. So while the Nuggets and 28 other teams keep hunting for the phylactery that sustains the Spurs (I am beginning to think that maybe it's a paperweight on R.C. Buford's desk, R.C. Buford himself, or perhaps the tattoo on Tim Duncan's back), it's foolish to believe them anything other than a contender year in and year out.

The Nuggets must approach tonight's contest thinking of the Spurs in exactly that way. The Spurs have a pedigree of winning, championship aspirations and execute better than any other team in the league under the barbed lash of coach Gregg Popovich. "Pop" knows that the Nuggets are extraordinarily dangerous when allowed to get into their transition game, so I would be very surprised to see anything other than 5 Spurs hustling back to their end of their court after any given possession. Even so, the Nuggets must run - threatening to isn't enough, Nuggets, put some wear on those old Spurs' hooves! If we see another repeat of the debacle in New Orleans with midrange jumpers suddenly becoming the preferred offensive set and plodding, halfhearted defense, this Nuggets team has no shot at winning in the Spurs' barn.

I am also frankly desperate to have Ty Lawson return to the starting lineup, as Andre Miller is clearly incapable of playing effectively for more than 30+ minutes per night, much less in 4 consecutive games. With the injury to Julyan Stone keeping him sidelined indefinitely, Karl has had to start getting creative with the point. If Ty Lawson can't go again, I would like to see Evan Fournier get a few minutes running the offense to see if he's capable of doing so. At the very least, Fournier's speed would allow him to attempt to keep up with countryman Tony Parker, whereas Miller is like to shrug his shoulders and watch the back of Parker's jersey from the perimeter as JaVale McGee fails to box out or collect the defensive rebound. Both the Nuggets and the Spurs are coming off disappointing losses, and both teams will be fired up to win this game.

Finally, let me say this: while I respect the hell out of the Spurs, I absolutely hate them. I hate the two playoff exits they served the Nuggets during the prime Melo 2005 and 2007. I hate Manu Ginobili, who is up there with Andrew Bynum on my list of players I wish would never play again, spending more time on his back than Vlade Divac and Heidi Fleiss combined. I hate Tim Duncan's perpetual eye-bugging. I hate Tony Parker's collapsing like a Jenga tower every time he drives the lane. I hate that shitty, stupid Spurs coyote, which is an insult to entertaining, non-Lovecraftian-horror mascots everywhere.

Ultimately, in my dislike for the Spurs, it's not that I hate their success - it's that I hate:





Go Nuggets.

Opposition's Take: Pounding the Rock

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