Although Ball Arena has not seen full capacity, the fans seemed to have ignited even more an already lit flame. The Denver Nuggets (33-18) have been on an absolute tear lately winning seven in a row and 16 of their last 19. Tonight, they host a struggling San Antonio Spurs (24-25) group that has lost four straight and eight of their last ten. This will be the second game in three days where the Nuggets and Spurs will face off, and streaks are on the line.
Wednesday’s game saw a close matchup at half turn into a route towards the end. The final score did not do it justice, but the Nuggets ran out their third string unit with about four minutes left in the game. The Spurs shot 25% from three and 66% from the free throw line aiding the Nuggets victory, but Denver will anticipate a much more accurate shooting performance from a persistent Spurs group.
The Nuggets will look to continue their intense defensive effort as they are holding opponents, on average, to 103.3 points per game during their seven-game win streak. Over that same stretch, Denver is beating opponents by about 11 points per game on average.
Who: Denver Nuggets (33-18, 16-9 home) vs San Antonio Spurs (24-25, 12-8 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, PG Dejounte Murray, SF DeMar Derozen, SF Keldon Johnson, C Jakob Poetl
DEN: PG Monte Morris, SF Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic
Injuries: Gorgui Dieng, Keita Bates-Diop, Trey Lyles, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Jamal Murray, Shaquille Harrison
Three Things to Watch:
Be Cautious of the Double Team
They did not use it as much on Wednesday, but if the Spurs want to slow this high-powered Nuggets offense they might consider doubling Jokic in the post. Nuggets fans might welcome that idea since Jokic is an incredible passer, but Gregg Popovich is one of, if not the best, coach of all time. The hard fought 2019 series against the Spurs saw San Antonio show a variety of late double teams. Sometimes they like to let Jokic get deep in the post, call on a guard from the perimeter, or a big down low to complete a late double team.
Cannot Let Their Guards Get Going
San Antonio’s backcourt of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray is a dangerous one on both ends of the floor. Murray averages 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game while his counterpart averages 14.4 points, and 3.3 assists per game. Their guards seem to be the gas that inflames this team. They play with activity and intensity, and if Nuggets fans do remember that 2019 playoff series, Dejounte Murray did not play but Denver was struggling to find answers for Derrick White. Nugget guards will have to continue their good play to stifle this bunch.
As Jamal Murray continues to be day-to-day with a knee injury, that should push Monte Morris into the starting lineup again. Morris did come off the bench last game due to minutes restriction, but that might have had something to do with Denver playing a back-to-back. If Morris does in fact move to the starting group and away from the bench unit, Facu should have plenty of minutes to facilitate and bring defensive energy to the bench group. Denver ranks 26th in the NBA among bench scoring at 31.6 points per game. On Wednesday, both team’s benches scored 34 points, so we will see whose bench comes to play tonight.