Three days ago it felt like the dream season for this upstart Denver Nuggets team was headed for an untimely end. With the team down two games to one, the 8th youngest playoff team in NBA history appeared to be shaken, rattled, and on their way to being rolled out of the playoffs. The Spurs were living at the rim as they drove around the Nuggets’ soft perimeter defense, three-point shots weren’t falling, and Will Barton looked like he was trying to shoot his way out of a slump while each shot buried the team further and further underground.
Oh what a difference a few days can make!
The Nuggets bounced back in game four and even looked like they regained some of their early-season mojo. The Spurs offense came to a halt, Denver’s shots suddenly started to find their way into the net, and Torrey Craig replaced Barton in the starting lineup, a move that immediately paid dividends for both players.
Are the Denver Nuggets truly back? Not just back in this series but back from whatever post all-star break malaise seemed to place them in quicksand down the homestretch? We’ll find out shortly. If so, Tuesday night at Pepsi Center should be a night to remember for the Nuggets and their fans. If not, it might be a night we all wish we could forget.
Who: San Antonio Spurs (2-2) at Denver Nuggets (2-2)
When: 7:30 PM MDT
Where: Pepsi Center. Denver, CO.
How to watch/listen: NBA TV, Altitude TV, AltitudeNOW.com, the AltitudeNOW app and Altitude Radio 92.5FM
Rival Blog: Pounding the Rock
Key Matchup: Gary Harris vs. Derrick White
As I wrote in my article on the 5 most important players in game 5, Derrick White is at the center of the two most intriguing matchups in the series. He’ll be guarded primarily by Gary Harris, a matchup that has not gone well for him in this series so far.
DeRozan's FG% vs the following Denver defenders:— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) April 23, 2019
vs Harris: 29%
vs Craig: 55%
vs Barton: 57%
White's FG% vs the following Denver defenders:
vs Harris: 20%
vs Murray: 77%
Gary Harris' defense really stands out against both Spurs.
If Harris can have the same effect on White as he had in game four, the Nuggets should escape with a win. If Gregg Popovich and the Spurs have crafted a way to get White to live at the rim the way he did in game three, the Nuggets are in for a long night.
Key thing to watch for: Can the Nuggets win the first quarter?
The Nuggets are 0-4 in opening quarters in this series, a far departure from the regular season where they held the 9th best net rating in first quarters. The Nuggets seemed to have figured some things out in game four including the level of physicality and intensity that is required right from the start. The Nuggets are at their best when they play with emotion so if they can find a way to start off hot, you have to imagine they’ll feed off of the energy of the crowd.
Speaking of which...
Final thought: Prepare for a madhouse
The atmosphere at Pepsi Center was electric for the team’s 4th quarter rally in game two. One can only imagine the level it will likely reach on Tuesday night for an extremely pivotal game 5. Both teams are desperate. Every possession will be a battle. And fans have waited an awful long time for moments just like this one. The Nuggets haven’t been able to sustain that emotional high that comes when the team goes on an extended run in front of their home crowd. Game 5 provides the perfect opportunity to blow the lid off of The Can.
In the words of Bart Scott: CAN’T WAIT!
What mood best describes your current state of mind heading into game 5?
This poll is closed
Calm, cool, and collected
Sweating bullets over here!
Borderline panic attack