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Staff predictions: Will the Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs in round one of the NBA playoffs?

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And who will be the x-factor?

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be the MVP of the Spurs-Nuggets series?

Adam Mares: I’m going with Nikola Jokic. I’m tempted to place Jamal Murray here since he’s had a lot of success against the Spurs and I think they’ll key in on Jokic in the post but I look at the Spurs’ roster and I don’t think they have anyone who can guard a truly motivated and aggressive Jokic. Who knows how assertive Jokic will be looking for his shot but if he approaches the series with the right mentality, I think he’ll dominate guys like Jakob Poeltl, Davis Bertans, and whoever else they try to stick on him on the block.

Adam: Jokic | Ryan: Jokic | Evan: Murray | Kayla: Jokic | Zach: Jamal Murray Ashley: Jokic

Which Denver Nuggets player will be the biggest x-factor in the series?

Evan Fiala: Nikola Jokic will be the best player on the court, but that comes with a price: Jokic will be in San Antonio’s cross hairs from the very beginning. Most everything the Spurs do will be to limit Jokic’s effectiveness, whether it’s bringing a double-team or trying to get under his skin. In those situations, Murray is the next man up. His and Jokic’s success almost go hand in hand - if Murray hits his shots, the offense generally flows like milk and honey and it limits any defensive scheme tailored against Jokic. The key here though is for Murray to be good consistently throughout the game, not just in high doses in the fourth quarter. If Murray is on the entire game, it will be hard for Denver to lose.

Adam: Craig | Ryan: Craig | Evan: Murray | Kayla: Millsap | Zach: Murray Ashley: Murray or Millsap

Which Spurs player scares you the most?

Kayla Osby: LaMarcus Aldridge seems to always play well against the Nuggets. He’s the type of player that can definitely cause match-up problems due to the fact that he’s so automatic from mid-range. Whoever is guarding him will be drawn away from the basket quite a bit, and that may hurt the Nuggets’ rebounding numbers. Beyond that, he’s the biggest scoring threat for the Spurs, If he’s scoring 20-30 points a game, the Spurs have a much better chance in this series, and he’s definitely capable of doing that.

Adam: Davis Bertans | Ryan: Marco Belinelli | Evan: Derrick White | Kayla: LaMarcus Aldridge l Ashley: DeMar DeRozan

Zach: Rudy Gay

True or false: the Nuggets cannot win the series if they lose game one?

Ryan Blackburn: Patently false. Some teams struggle coming out of the gate in the first game before finding their footing in the rest of the series. The Nuggets might struggle too, with youth and inexperience haunting their first minutes on the floor. I don’t think they drop the first game, but if they do, it should be a quick wake up call that the Spurs are not to be taken lightly. Denver clearly has the better team with more talent, and I fear they might know that and trust their talent level too much. The Spurs may punch first, but the Nuggets have the resiliency to punch back harder, learning how to operate a playoff series in the process.

Adam: False | Ryan: False | Evan: False | Kayla: False | Zach: False l Ashley: False

Who wins game one?

Zach Mikash: I like the Nuggets to open the series with a win. I expect there to be some hiccups early but Denver has shown time and again they have the ability to close teams out late. Tonight should be no different. I also don’t anticipate the Nuggets losing a home game in this series. There’s a reason they were the best team at home this year and it should carry over to the playoffs.

Adam: Nuggets | Ryan: Nuggets | Evan: Nuggets | Kayla: Nuggets | Zach: Nuggets l Ashley: Nuggets

Who wins the series and in how many games?

Evan Fiala: Nuggets in 7, because of course it will go to seven games and will be heart wrenching and dramatic for all of us. The Nuggets are clearly the more talented team but their play in that last stretch of the season hasn’t necessarily been inspiring. That said, they still found ways to win the games they needed to win. I’m going to chalk up a loss or two to Denver adjusting to the pace and expectations of the playoffs + the Popovich factor, but ultimately the good guys will pull through.

Adam: Nuggets in 5 | Ryan: Nuggets in 5 | Evan: Nuggets in 7 | Kayla: Nuggets in 6

Zach: Nuggets in 5 l Ashley: Nuggets in 5