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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to get one back against the San Antonio Spurs, this time at home

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets are on a rare losing streak. Losses on the road to the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs gave the appearance that the Nuggets myriad of injuries have finally proven to turn the tides into their opponent’s favor, in the last two games at least. Now back in the comfy confines of the Pepsi Center, the Nuggets welcome in the team they just played, the Spurs. The rare home and home will give Denver a chance to get immediate retribution, but in order to do so they’ll need to figure some things out, and quick.

In Thursday’s game the Nuggets looked outmatched. Gregg Popovich had his team focus on pressuring Nikola Jokic, aggressively bringing double teams to make him give up the rock. To Jokic’s credit he made plenty of nice passes out of those double teams, but the Nuggets were unable to cash in their shots more often than not. Juancho Hernangomez was the lone bright spot for Denver that night, they’ll need more than just the solid play from their Spaniard tonight if they want to get revenge.

The Basics

Who: San Antonio Spurs (19-16) at Denver Nuggets (21-11)

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: The Can; Denver, CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV, AltitudeNOW.com, the AltitudeNOW app and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM.

Rival Blog: Pounding the Rock

Projected Matchups

Position Nuggets Spurs Advantage
Position Nuggets Spurs Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Derrick White Nuggets
SG Torrey Craig Bryn Forbes Spurs
SF Juancho Hernangomez Demar Derozan Spurs
PF Nikola Jokic Rudy Gay Nuggets
C Mason Plumlee Lamarcus Aldridge Spurs
Bench Trey Lyles, Malik Beasley, Monte Morris, Nick Young Davis Bertans, Jakob Poetl, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli Even

Injured players: Gary Harris - out (groin), Paul Millsap - out (toe), Will Barton - out (groin), Isaiah Thomas - out (hip), Michael Porter Jr - out (back), Jarred Vanderbilt - out (foot), Pau Gasol - out (foot), Dejounte Murray - out (knee)

Key matchup: Mason Plumlee vs LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge pretty much ate Plumlee’s lunch on Thursday. Despite having the physical stature to go toe to toe with Aldridge, Mase lacked the ability to keep up with the skilled big man who used his fancy footwork and excellent post game to pile up the points for the Spurs. Plumdog has been one of the brightest spots on the Nuggets this season so there’s no reason to panic but Aldridge is a tough matchup for him. Hopefully tonight he pares back his aggression a bit and just focuses on staying in front of LaMarcus, that will likely serve him better than the “attempt to block every shot” approach he used on Thursday

Key thing to watch for: adjustments

Michael Malone and the vast majority of the Nuggets core have not seen playoff action in their current roles. Back to back games against the same team are as close to a playoff type scenario Denver will get in the regular season so I’m interested to see how they adjust. The actual Xs and Os adjustments they make aren’t as relevant (unless of course they face the Spurs in the playoffs) but how they simply handle adjusting will be the key to watch. Will they come with a similar game plan and hope for better results? Will they switch things up entirely? If they do, will the players be able to make those changes work on the fly? These are the type of things that will give insight on what we might see if/when Denver gets into the postseason.

Opening thought: Bigger game than it seems

The Nuggets have sputtered a bit and while they’ve done that before this season and bounced back nicely, tonight feels a little more important than just a bounce back game in the regular season. The Spurs exposed some weaknesses of Denver’s, particularly how the team can struggle if the ball is forced out of Jokic’s hands. The game before that was the first blowout of the season. If they drop the game tonight its a three game losing streak and that’s not the end of the world, but it would be about as ugly of a three game losing as they’ve had this season. Add on top of that that the Nuggets have to turn around and hop on a plane for a game in Phoenix tomorrow and losing tonight’s game would put the Nuggets in a very unflattering light. Here’s hoping they take care of business at home as they they have been prone to this year.