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Preview: Nuggets go to San Antonio to face the Spurs for the third time

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The Nuggets head back down to San Antonio for the second time this season to face the venerable Spurs. Can the Nuggets summon up some magic again?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets had a surprising win over the Phoenix Suns before the Christmas break, but the season continues in with a road game against the San Antonio Spurs tonight

The Spurs are looking to continue a few impressive streaks against the Nuggets tonight. A win would give them their seventeenth win at home this season, where they are undefeated. San Antonio has also won nine straight against Denver, a streak that will likely continue if the Nuggets are crippled by injury again.

The Basics:

Who: Denver Nuggets (12-17) at San Antonio Spurs (25-6)

When: 6:30 PM MT
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

How to watch: Altitude

Rival Blog: Pounding the Rock

Injuries

Jusuf Nurkic (out), Wilson Chandler (out), Emmanuel Mudiay (out), Danilo Gallinari (out), Jameer Nelson (probable), Gary Harris (probable)

Key Matchup: Nikola Jokic versus Boris Diaw

Jokic is having one of the most under-the-radar great seasons for rookie big men in the league. He hasn't played as many minutes, but when the playing time is there, Jokic has responded. He still makes rookie mistakes on defense, and he isn't an above the rim player, but if there's any player he should study to find a pattern for success to follow, it's Diaw. The Spurs veteran has never been an above the rim threat, but uses footwork and knowledge play great defense while using his passing ability and shooting touch to help put points on the scoreboard on offense. Jokic is bigger than Diaw, but Diaw has the edge in this matchup due to experience. If Jokic can help keep Diaw off the boards and use his length to interrupt passing lanes, it could really help the Nuggets tonight

What the Nuggets Need to Do
:
Not get overwhelmed. The Spurs are a deep, talented team, and the Nuggets are hurt, inexperienced, and not as talented. The Spurs have the best defense in the league and the Nuggets are missing five of their best offensive players. If the Nuggets pass the ball and play exceptional defense, they could keep it close. Someone will have to have a career game for a victory, I expect. 

Prediction: Spurs 97 - Nuggets 86. Spurs have the best defense in the league, and Kawhi is going to suffocate whoever the Nuggets turn to on offense with so many players out. Whenever a Nugget gets hot, Kawhi will get switched over and smother that flare up.