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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to stomp the San Antonio Spurs

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (31-18) have been on a roll as of late, and they’re looking forward to tonight’s matchup with the San Antonio Spurs (24-24) who are in the midst of a difficult stretch with a 2-8 record in their last 10 games. Since the All-Star break, the Nuggets have been one of the league’s best teams, and they’re working to push up the Western Conference standings.

Denver is 8-2 in their last 10 games, and those two losses came in aboration games when they shot 20 fewer free throws than the New Orleans Pelicans and the Toronto Raptors had their best shooting performance in team history when they made a franchise-record 24 3-point shots. Denver may not be in the elite tier of teams, but they are making progress to get their name in that conversation.

San Antonio’s run of dominance and consistency is steadily fading like a distant memory. Going back to the 1967-68 Dallas Chaparrals, the franchise had never missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, and they are on pace to do just that with the rate they are trending currently. After going just 2-7 in their nine-game homestand, they’re now out for a five-game road trip that could send them spiraling even further.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (31-18, 15-9 home) vs San Antonio Spurs (24-24, 12-7 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

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

Rival Blog: Pounding the Rock

Expected Starting Lineups:

SAS: PG Derrick White, SG DeMar DeRozan, SF Keldon Johnson, PF Luka Samanic, C Jakob Poetl

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SF Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Keita Bates-Diop, Trey Lyles, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Jamal Murray

Three Things to Watch

Aaron Gordon Can Feast

Since joining the Nuggets, Gordon has turned over an entirely new leaf. In four games, he’s averaging 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 block per game. He’s also shooting 64.1 percent from the field, and he’s hit the ground running better than anybody could have hoped in terms of his ability to play off of star center Nikola Jokic. Against a Spurs’ team that’s allowing opponents to shoot 50.9 percent from 2-point range, Gordon has the potential for another good game.

Paging the Bench

Denver has to be thanking their lucky stars that their starting group is healthy and playing so well right now. Since March 1, they have been absolutely abysmal, and they have to step up at some point. Facundo Campazzo is shooting 26.7 percent from the field during that span with a -2.4 plus/minus. Is this the game the bench finally wakes up, or are the starters still left on an island by themselves?

Who’s guarding DeMar DeRozan?

DeRozan is far and away the leading scorer for the Spurs as he’s averaging 21 points per game compared to 15.7 for second-place Dejounte Murray. Murray is questionable for the game as of now, and the team doesn’t have a consistent scorer otherwise. With Gary Harris in Orlando, who’s going to be tasked with stopping DeRozan. If they can find a way to slow him down, it should be a pretty easy win.