The Denver Nuggets earned the number two seed in the Western Conference Playoffs and will now have a date with the San Antonio Spurs. Even though the Nuggets had a much better regular season than the Spurs, these two teams are extremely similar, and this should be a tight series. There is no doubt that the Spurs won’t be intimidated or afraid to take on the Nuggets in Denver in game 1.
Denver finished the regular season with an impressive record of 54-28. The Nuggets went 34-7 at home during the regular season, and it helped them win the Northwest Division title. San Antonio got off to a miserable start this year but was able to rebound and finish with a record of 48-34. The Spurs were about to win two of the four games against the Nuggets this season. Denver is a -5.5 point favorite in game 1 of the series.
Spurs Have Some Shooters
All eyes will be on DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge for the Spurs, but they have plenty of other important pieces as well. DeRozan leads the team with 6.2 assists per game and has chipped in 21 points per night as well. Aldridge is averaging 21.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per night but will have a tough matchup with Nikola Jokic in this game. These two players will need to be great all series long, but San Antonio is also going to have to make some shots.
The Spurs didn’t take a ton of three-point attempts during the regular season despite shooting close to 40 percent from deep as a team. Rudy Gay and Bryn Forbes are both shooting better than 40 percent and will be a huge key to this series. San Antonio is scoring just 111.7 points per game but can be hard to stop when they are shooting it well.
Nuggets Must Defend Well
While the Spurs are hoping that their shooters can get hot from deep, the Nuggets will be doing all that they can to shut down the San Antonio offense. Denver was a terrific defensive team in the regular season and kept opponents to just 106.7 points per night. Center Nikola Jokic is averaging nearly two steals per game and is also a rim protector down low. The Nuggets don’t have a very high-powered offense so their defense must be great.
Jokic is not only a terrific defensive player, but he is also a triple-double machine on offense. “The Joker” is averaging a team-high 20.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game this season. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will have a plan to slow him down, and players like Jamal Murray and Gary Harris will have to provide scoring.
Spurs Steal Game 1 From Nuggets
Denver knows that they are in for a real dogfight this series, but it almost feels like the Spurs are the better team. The Nuggets can really defend and have some nice pieces, but the Spurs just know how to win in the postseason. Denver might wind up winning the series, but San Antonio is going to get a game 1 victory. Bet the San Antonio Spurs +5.5 over the Denver Nuggets in game 1.