Game #50: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets (10:30/9:30 Central time, television: TNT)
Season Series: Denver leads 2-0
Dec. 5: Denver 106, San Antonio 96
Jan. 31: Denver 103, San Antonio 89
Both games were played at the AT&T Center, the two will also play again April 10 in Denver.
Trends: San Antonio split the first 4 games of their current road trip. The Spurs are 5-12 versus the other 7 teams that would qualify for the Western Conference playoffs if the season ended today.
Denver has won 9 out of the last 10 games at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets are 10-5 against current Western Conference playoff teams.
Spurs – Tim Duncan at 19.4 points per game
Nuggets – Carmelo Anthony at 29.5 points per game
The Denver Post reports that forward Kenyon Martin will be a game time decision. Forward Renaldo Balkman is out with a mid-back strain. Guard Aaron Afflalo strained his ankle against Utah on 2/6 but will probably play.
Spurs: Tony Parker
Not too long ago, the Denver Nuggets were a middling team in the Western Conference, usually resolved to a first round exit from the playoffs. However, last year they made a trade for guard Chauncey Billups, tied the team record for most wins since moving from the ABA to the NBA made it to the Western Conference Finals. With Carmelo Anthony having his best season, they have even bigger goals this year. It’s not just a two man team though as 5 players score in double figures and 2 more average 9 points per game. The Nuggets are one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA and are also one of the league’s most athletic teams. In their two previous match ups, the Nuggets have forced the Spurs into a lot of turnovers because of their athleticism. San Antonio had 19 turnovers in the first match up and 15 in the second one. In the second game, Denver shot 53 percent from the field and 75 percent from the 3-point line. If the Spurs want to win this game, they need to minimize turnovers and keep Chauncey Billups and Aaron Afflalo from creating easy looks for their teammates.
Key Match ups:
Chauncey Billups vs. Roger Mason, Jr.
Carmelo Anthony vs. Richard Jefferson
Forecast: 35 percent chance of Theo Ratliff ,the Spurs 12th man. Playing in the thin air against a team that likes to run like the Nuggets do, this game could get ugly.
Prediction: The Spurs desperately need to win a game against one of the Western Conference’s elite teams. However, the Nuggets have only lost 4 games at home all season, so the Spurs may have already had their best chances to beat them. I think the Nuggets will win this game.