The Spurs enter Friday’s matchup tied for third place in the Western Conference standings, despite missing All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard for most of the regular season. According to Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich, it would be a “surprise” to see Leonard take the court in an NBA game again this season.
Leonard may not return this season
The Spurs come out of the All-Star Break with a 35-24 overall record after losing their last three games. San Antonio was battling some injuries headed into the break, as Manu Ginobili, DeJounte Murray, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and Leonard were all nursing injuries prior to All-Star Weekend.
Leonard has apparently been medically cleared to play, but has opted to remain sidelined following a second opinion from a specialist. Leonard spent 10 days before the All-Star Break in New York consulting with medical professionals about his injury, and if he decides to return this year, it will be because he can manage the discomfort caused by the injury. Without him in the lineup, it is going to be difficult for the Spurs to be a legitimate threat to upstage the Warriors in the Western Conference playoffs.
According to another report by ESPN, Aldridge was picked last by Team LeBron in the All-Star Draft.
Nuggets getting healthy for stretch run
The Nuggets and Spurs matched up against one another in their final game before All-Star Weekend with Denver coming away with a 117-109 win at the Pepsi Center. Nikola Jokic put up a triple-double on the night, finishing with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists to help propel the Nuggets to victory. Will Barton scored 20 points, while Jamal Murray and Wilson Chandler added 17 points apiece to help pace the Nuggets on offense.
Denver might be getting power forward Paul Milsap back in the mix very soon. Milsap practiced with the team for the first time since November on Wednesday, but remains without an official timetable for his return.
The Nuggets are a respectable 23-19 without Milsap in the lineup and head coach Mike Malone may opt to bring him off the bench once he’s ready to play.
The team also welcomed back center Mason Plumlee on Wednesday. Plumlee hasn’t played since Jan. 29 due to a calf injury.
- Spurs are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Nuggets are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
The Spurs come into this game having lost five of their last six contests. The Nuggets, meanwhile, looked like legitimate playoff contenders prior to the All-Star Break. Denver won 7 of their final 10 games before the break, including victories over Golden State, OKC, and the Spurs. The Nuggets’ young core has really started to play well together as of late and they are notorious for running teams out of the gym at home. Look for Denver to cover the spread in this matchup between two Western Conference teams battling for playoff positioning.