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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to keep winning against San Antonio Spurs

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Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets (37-16) are in the midst of a winning streak after rattling off three in a row last week. With just two games remaining until the All-Star Break, including one against the conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers, they’ll be trying to win at least one more game this week before getting a little over one week off.

The team standing in their way is none other than the San Antonio Spurs (22-30), who are on a streak of their own, but they’re on a four-game losing streak with two games on the road this week. This isn’t the Spurs’ best team they’ve trotted out in the past few years, but they’re still coached by one of the best coaches of all time.

Denver has played down to their competition on more than one occasion this season, and they can’t afford to be doing that this week. They need to head into the All-Star break with momentum, and it starts tonight.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (37-16, 20-6 home) vs San Antonio Spurs (22-30, 8-18 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Pepsi Center

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Pounding the Rock

Expected Starting Lineups:

SAS: PG Dejounte Murray, SG Bryn Forbes, SF DeMar DeRozan, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C Trey Lyles

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Gary Harris, SF Torrey Craig, PF Jerami Grant, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Mason Plumlee (Foot), Michael Porter Jr. (Ankle), Will Barton (Knee)

Three Things to Watch

Can Jamal Keep Cooking?

Over the three games last week, he averaged 29.0 points per game on some incredible shooting numbers with a slash line of .615/.565/.714. Nikola Jokic is the driving force of this offense, and they are at their best when he’s playing well. However, when Murray is playing at this level, they can be one of the best offenses in the NBA. If Murray can play this well against the 22nd-ranked Spurs’ defense, it will go a long way.

Who can stop Jokic?

After many years of running a traditional center throughout the entire game, the Spurs have transitioned into running more small-ball lineups. Jokic moves around traditional centers because of his sheer size, and he can bully smaller defenders even easier. If they try to send smaller guys in his direction or double team him, he’ll find the open shooter or get the easy bucket.

Will the Spurs get hot from 3-point range?

In their wins, the Spurs shoot 39.8 percent from 3-point range. Among their starters, only DeRozan shoots less than 35 percent from downtown. They have never been known as a team that hoists a lot of 3-point shots, but they generate good looks because of the system that they run. Denver has been susceptible to hot shooting teams in losses this year. If the Spurs get hot, they could force an easy upset.