San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets: Game 1 Takeaways
By Andrew Ites
The San Antonio Spurs took Game One of their series against the Nuggets in a very tight matchup in Denver. Here’s what we learned from that victory as we project the rest of the series.
The San Antonio Spurs knew they needed to win at least one game in Denver if they were going to move on to the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs, and they wasted no time in picking up that W with a Game One road victory.
The Spurs led for nearly the entire night and were able to hold off a late push from the Nuggets while hitting some clutch free throws to close it out.
The gap in playoff experience was on display in Game One as most of San Antonio’s players looked comfortable in a postseason setting while some of Denver’s key players were intimidated under the bright lights.
We learned how some of these individual matchups will play out as the series goes along, but it’s important to avoid ovrreacting to what we saw in Game One.
Here is what I took away from seeing the Spurs win live and in person at the Pepsi Center, and what it means for the rest of the first round.
Next: Derrick White is ready
Derrick White is ready
Derrick White fell into a pretty major slump at the end of the season as his three-point percentage took a dip, which affected the type of confidence he had been playing with.
However, White looked like he had plenty of confidence in his first playoff start as he finished with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and a clutch steal that officially sealed the victory for San Antonio. White also had the highlight of the night with a monster dunk over Paul Millsap that energized the rest of the Spurs’ roster.
The Denver native did make a few mistakes in his first legitimate playoff action as he turned the ball over four times, but he will no doubt learn from those as the Spurs watch film to prepare for Game Two on Tuesday night.
White convincingly won the point guard matchup over Jamal Murray, which is one of the fulcrums that could turn the entire series.
White held Murray to 8-for-24 from the field with 17 points and 0 assists in Game One.
If the former Colorado Buffalo continues to outplay Murray in this series, the Spurs have a great shot to move on to round two.
Next: The Nuggets will shoot better than they did in Game One
The Nuggets will shoot better than they did in Game One
The term “make or miss league” is often overused with describing the NBA, but that was definitely the case in Game One of this series.
The Nuggets were able to get a number of open looks on the night, but they were unable to convert many of them shooting just 42% from the field and 21.4% (6-for-28) from three.
The Spurs were able to make shots at a much higher clip with a field goal percentage of 48.2% and nailing 7-of-15 three-point attempts, and a lot of those shots were pretty tightly contested from Denver.
The Nuggets probably got some of the nerves of playing in their first playoff series out of their system, and I’d expect them to convert more of those open looks as they get more comfortable in a postseason setting.
The strategy for the Spurs will include giving up less of those open looks moving forward as each team makes adjustments following Game One.
Next: The Spurs stars can play much better
The Spurs stars can play much better
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If you would’ve told a Spurs fan that LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan would go a combined 12-of-36 from the floor and score just 33 points between them, you wouldn’t expect a victory on the road.
However, San Antonio got some very solid performances from their role players while Aldridge and DeRozan each struggled to get their offensive game rolling.
DeRozan does have a history of struggling with his shot in the postseason, and those struggles could carry over to his career in San Antonio. However, he was able to contribute in other areas of the box score with 12 rebounds and 6 assists.
Hopefully DeMar’s shooting struggles in Game One were a result of some playoff jitters as he looks to bounce back and have a strong series.
Aldridge was also held in check on Saturday night as he went 6-for-19 from the field. He did snatch 8 rebounds and avoided turning the ball over, but the Spurs are going to need a much better offensive performance from their All-Star if they’re going to take this series.
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I have more confidence in Aldridge’s shot returning than I do with DeRozan, but there’s no doubt that each of them can play much better than they did in Game One.