San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: Keys to victory for the rest of the series

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 20: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs drives on Malik Beasley #25 of the Denver Nuggets during Game Four of the first round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 20, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 20: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs drives on Malik Beasley #25 of the Denver Nuggets during Game Four of the first round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 20, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 18: LaMarcus Aldridge (12) of the San Antonio Spurs pats the head of Derrick White (4) after he went off for a monster half against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter on Thursday, April 18, 2019. The Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs faced off for game three of their first round NBA playoffs series at the At&T Center. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 18: LaMarcus Aldridge (12) of the San Antonio Spurs pats the head of Derrick White (4) after he went off for a monster half against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter on Thursday, April 18, 2019. The Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs faced off for game three of their first round NBA playoffs series at the At&T Center. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The San Antonio Spurs head back to Denver with the series tied at two games apiece. Here are some keys for the Spurs moving forward as they try to pull off the upset.

The San Antonio Spurs took a 2-1 series lead thanks to a dominant second half in Game Three, and it looked like they had the second-seed Nuggets on the ropes for a historic upset.

Unfortunately, the Spurs did not play well in Game Four and Denver was able to take back home court advantage for the series as they head back to Colorado for two of the final three games of the first round.

We’ve seen each team make some major adjustments as this series has swung back and forth with each team alternating wins, including a starting lineup change that paid major dividends for the Nuggets in Game Four.

The Spurs will have to come up with some adjustments of their own after a dismal performance on Saturday afternoon if they want to avoid falling down 3-2 in this series.

Here’s how San Antonio can steal another win in Denver in Game Five to set up a possible series-clinching Game Six at home.

Next: Bench Production

SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 20: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets during Game Four of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 20: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets during Game Four of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bench Production

The San Antonio Spurs’ bench was a strength all season long, but it’s turned into a major weakness in the playoffs.

The Spurs have jumped out to big first quarter leads in every game of the first round so far, but they’ve allowed Denver to come back each time due in part to the struggles of their second unit.

Rudy Gay played well in the sixth man role after being moved to the bench late in the season, but he has hurt the team mightily in this first round series.

Gay has a true shooting percentage of just 42.3% through four games, and the Spurs have a net rating of -28 when he’s been on the floor.

Related Story. The Spurs bench mob needs to rally for playoffs

Marco Belinelli was also a key piece of the reserves’ success during the regular season that has not shown out so far in the playoffs.

Marco is shooting 41.7% from three, but he’s only 4-for-12 on two-point attempts and his defense has been a major issue for the bench as the Spurs have a defensive rating of 121 when he’s been on the court.

Gay, Belinelli, and the rest of San Antonio’s bench will need to step up their level of play if they’re going to pick up a road win and take the series.

Next: Don't allow Nikola Jokic to become a scorer

SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 20: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 20: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Don’t allow Nikola Jokic to become a scorer

After a dismal scoring performance in Denver’s Game One loss, their star center Nikola Jokic has become more aggressive scoring the basketball in the subsequent three games.

Jokic only scored 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting in Game One, but he’s scored 20+ points in Games Two, Three, and Four with his best performance of the series coming on Saturday where he scored 29 points while shooting 10-for-22 from the floor.

The Spurs need to force Jokic into being more of a facilitator in the Nuggets’ offense and make Jamal Murray try to beat them with his shot, which has been hot and cold this series.

Related Story. Spurs recent history in the NBA Playoffs

San Antonio likes their one-on-one matchup between White and Murray at the point guard position much more than the Poeltl and Jokic battle that is going on down low.

Even though Jokic is one of the best passing big men the league has ever seen, the Spurs need to continue to get the ball out of his hands with crashing double teams and force the rest of the Nuggets’ offensive players to make their shots.

If Denver’s supporting cast gets hot and beats them, the Spurs can live with that. But San Antonio can’t continue to let Nikola Jokic eat down low if they’re going to win this series.

Next: Aggressiveness from Derrick White

SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 18: Derrick White #4 of the San Antonio Spurs looks to move the ball against the Denver Nuggets during Game Three of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 18: Derrick White #4 of the San Antonio Spurs looks to move the ball against the Denver Nuggets during Game Three of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Aggressiveness from Derrick White

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Derrick White was one of the best stories of the entire postseason through the first three games as he was consistently dominant on both ends of the floor culminating that trio of games with a 36-point night in Game Three where he also contributed 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block while shooting 15-of-21 from the floor.

White came back down to earth in Game Four where he only managed to score 8 points on 3-for-8 shooting, and he commited 4 turnovers while finishing the game with a plus-minus of minus-19.

The former Colorado Buffalo had been torching Jamal Murray on the offensive end and frustrating him on the defensive end of the floor through most of the first three games, but Murray got the best of that matchup in Denver’s Game Four win.

White needs to be as aggressive as he was in Game Three where he relentlessly attacked the basket and provided himself with easy looks while also hitting open teammates when the defense collapsed.

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Next. Spurs: Key Playoff Matchups Against the Nuggets

If the Spurs can get the Derrick White from Games One through Three for the rest of this series, they should be able to pull off the upset and move on to the second round.

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