A pair of Western Conference teams looking to maintain their hold on playoff positions meet in the Rocky Mountains. The San Antonio Spurs are on the road as they travel to take on the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night. San Antonio was in action Monday night on the road as they faced the white-hot Jazz in Salt Lake City. Denver bounced back from a whipping by Houston on the road to best the Suns 123-113 on the road Saturday night. The Spurs own a commanding 116-65 edge in the all-time regular season series and have won five straight as part of 15 wins in the last 16 meetings. That includes two this season with a 106-104 win at home on January 30 the latest contest between the teams.
San Antonio Spurs Continue Lengthy Road Swing
San Antonio was in action against Utah Monday night and the banged-up club has the misfortune of playing on back to back nights. The Spurs entered Monday 1-1 on this trip and 5-5 in their last 10 games: they were coming off a 122-105 loss at Golden State Saturday. San Antonio was third in the Western Conference standings, 8.5 games behind the Warriors for the top spot. The Spurs were eight games behind the Rockets for the top spot in the Southwest Division race and stood 5.5 games ahead of the ninth-place Clippers. San Antonio is 13-16 on the road and 20-12 against Western Conference foes this season.
The Spurs are below average offensively this season, ranking 27th in scoring offense with 101.5 points per game. San Antonio is 10th in rebounding with 44.4 boards a contest while the team is 15th in assists with 22.7 dimes per game. San Antonio is 1st in the league in scoring defense as they allow 98.1 points a game. Kawhi Leonard averages 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes a night in nine games so far. It was announced on January 17 that he was out indefinitely with recurring quad soreness from the injury that cost him the first 27 games of the year. LaMarcus Aldridge contributes a team leading 22.4 points plus 8.4 rebounds a night while Manu Ginobili chips in 9.4 points per game. Pau Gasol averages 10.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in his second year with the team. Tony Parker, who has missed 27 games, Rudy Gay (11.5 points), Patty Mills, Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes and Danny Green (8.7 points) all are looked at to contribute for coach Gregg Popovich’s team. Gay is expected to be out until late February with bursitis in his heel. The Spurs are 17th in the league by shooting 45.7 percent from the field. San Antonio is tied for 26th in three point field goals per game with 8.9 per contest. The Spurs are tied for 15th in the league by knocking down 36 percent of their long range attempts.
Denver Nuggets Look to Maintain Home Court Advantage
Denver rebounded from their one-sided loss to the Rockets as they took down the Suns. The Nuggets have had two days off since that game to recover, giving them an edge over the fatigued Spurs. Denver led by just two at the half against the Suns before going on a 36-15 run spanning the third and fourth quarters that gave them a 109-95 lead: they hung on for the win. The Nuggets shot 51.1 percent from the field and hit 13 of 29 three point attempts in addition to 20 of 22 free throws in the contest. Denver overcame allowing Phoenix to shoot 54.8 percent in the game: Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets with 26 in the win.
The Nuggets are tied for 9th in the league in scoring offense with an average of 107.2 points per game. Denver is currently 7th in the league in rebounding with 44.8 rebounds per contest. The Nuggets are 5th in the league by dishing out 24.1 assists per game. Denver is 18th in scoring defense as they allow 106.5 points per contest. Paul Millsap puts up 15.3 points plus 6.2 rebounds a game in his first season with Denver. He’s out for an extended period after wrist surgery to repair a tendon. Will Barton contributes 14.5 points a night while Nikola Jokic kicks in 16.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game. Gary Harris (team high 17.4 points) and Jamal Murray (16.3 points) each are contributing offensively as well. Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Devin Harris, Mason Plumlee and Trey Lyles (11 points) all have to step up when called upon. The Nuggets are currently tied for 10th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 46.4 percent from the field. Denver is 12th in the league by sinking 10.9 threes per game and is 14th in the league in three point shooting by sinking 36.1 percent from beyond the arc.
- Spurs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- Spurs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Western Conference
- Spurs are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
- Nuggets are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
- Nuggets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Western Conference
It’s hard enough to play in Denver as a visiting team when you’re rested. It becomes increasingly more difficult as the second game of a back to back like San Antonio faces here. Throw in that the Spurs are minus several key players from their rotation and it becomes increasingly difficult. Denver takes advantage of the altitude to pile up home wins: they are 22-7 at the Pepsi Center this season. The Nuggets should be able to take down the Spurs and pick up home win #23 here as they knock off San Antonio.
Pick: Denver Nuggets
It’s tough to know what to expect from San Antonio in this contest. Here’s what we do know for certain: the Spurs are playing the second game of a back to back after facing Utah Monday night. Aldridge, Leonard and Gay are all out of the mix while Parker may or may not be available. That’s a lot of experience and talent that definitely isn’t or may not be on the floor for San Antonio. While no one is better at maximizing output from his talent than Gregg Popovich, this is a daunting task to take on. Denver is fighting to stay in the crowded Western Conference playoff picture and taking care of business at home is the best way to go about it. Can the Nuggets avenge a tough loss to the Spurs in their last meeting and prevail here?
The over is 6-1 in the Spurs’ last 7 vs. Western Conference foes and 5-1 in their last six overall. Denver has seen the over go 6-1 in their last seven overall and 4-1 in their last five at home. With the way the Nuggets have been playing lately, they should be able to exploit San Antonio’s weakened rotation and help push this one over the total.