The Denver Nuggets (5-3) face off against the San Antonio Spurs (5-4) tonight after Denver has won 3 of their last 4 games. This will open up a 2 game series versus the Spurs, the two teams will be playing each other again on Monday. The Spurs have gotten out to an above .500 start behind a jump from Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Tre Jones. Denver sits at 6th in the Western Conference early in the season, a win tonight and on Monday will help set them apart early on.

The San Antonio Spurs are a young team that have certainly surprised some people to start the season. While many might've written the Spurs off before the season started, a Popovich coached team will always surprise in some ways. Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson have both taken big leaps as scorers this season, Vassell increased from 12.3 ppg to 19.8 ppg, Johnson went from 17 to 23.9 ppg as well. The Spurs have beaten the Timberwolves twice and the 76ers once, even teams trying to contend can fall to San Antonio. However, the Spurs have lost their last 2 games, one of which was by 43 points. With Denver entering tonights game with momentum, it is Denver’s game to lose.

The Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday with the help of Aaron Gordon’s gem of a performance. AG put up 27 on 10/13 shooting while hitting 3 three-pointers. Nikola Jokić made history in that game as well, notching his 79th triple-double and passing the legendary Wilt Chamberlain for 6th place in all-time triple-doubles. Denver has had an up and down start to the season, picking up a few wins against the Spurs will help put a few early losses out of mind.

The Essentials:

Who: San Antonio Spurs (5-4, 3-1 away) @ Denver Nuggets (5-3, 3-0 at home)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: AltitudeTV and NBALeague Pass where available, 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.

Rival Blog: Pounding the Rock

Expected Starting Lineups:

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokić

SAS: PG Tre Jones, SG Devin Vassell, SF Jeremy Sochan, PF Keldon Johnson, C Jakob Poeltl


Den: Bones Hyland (hip) QUESTIONABLE, Ish Smith (calf) QUESTIONABLE, Zeke Nnaji (ankle) OUT, Collin Gillespie (leg) OUT

SAS: Romeo Langford (toe) QUESTIONABLE, Isaiah Roby (illness) QUESTIONABLE,

3 Things to Watch for:

Christian Braun Minutes

Braun only played 7 minutes in the Nuggets last game, getting him minutes early in the season will drastically increase his chance at playoff minutes. With both Bones and Ish being questionable for the game there will be guard minutes needed and all Braun has to do is prove he deserves those minutes. In his only 2 games with 25 minutes or more he has scored 10 and 9 points while grabbing 5 and 6 rebounds. He plays tough defense, can shoot, finish at the rim, he is someone that the Nuggets bench can definitely use. It is no coincident that the 3 games Braun has scored 9 or more the Nuggets have all won. A rookie getting lots of run in a Coach Malone system doesn't happen often but with the Spurs likely resting players coming off of injuries, I wouldn't be surprised to see Braun and other bench players gets lots of run tonight.

Jokić vs Poeltl

In the last matchup between these two the Nuggets lost, but Nikola Jokić put up a 41 point 17 rebound display. The time before that 35 points, 17 rebounds, 8 assists, Jokić has shown that Poeltl cannot guard him alone. While both of those games happened without Jamal Murray, Jokić is more than capable to give a MVP caliber performance tonight. The Spurs also do not have a good option for if Poeltl gets into foul trouble, having to put Zach Collins or Gorge Dieng on the Joker is a the Nuggets dream. If the Nuggets surrounding Jokić play to an elite level tonight, we could be in for another Jokić triple-double.

Jamal Murray

Murray has scored 21+ points in his last 2 games, if he can keep up his streak against the subpar Spurs guard defense, Denver should win this game. It’s been nothing but awesome to see Jamal back on the court playing well, seeing him do it in a solid stretch would be even better. Murray played 30+ minutes in his last 3 games, marking it the first time he has done that since his return. It will be interesting to see if Malone tries to get him some more rest tonight or to keep running him 30 minutes a game, Tre Jones stands at 6’1 so he is not a great matchup for Jamal, I would look for Murray to be aggressive from the mid-range and pick-and-roll tonight.