San Antonio Spurs: Takeaways from crucial Game 6 victory against Denver
The San Antonio Spurs were facing elimination in Game Six, but they thoroughly dominated Denver to force a winner-take-all Game Seven on Saturday night.
After taking two out of the first three games of the series, the San Antonio Spurs fell on some hard times beginning in the second half of Game Four and found themselves in a must win situation in Game Six.
Luckily the Spurs had the benefit of a hyped up AT&T Center crowd behind them to help them avoid elimination.
Like most of the games in this series, San Antonio jumped out to a big lead after the first quarter and then let Denver back in the game with a subpar second quarter.
The two teams played an even third quarter before the Spurs ran the Nuggets off the floor in the fourth quarter with outstanding performances on both ends of the court.
With this win, San Antonio has put all of the pressure on the youngest team in the playoffs to close out the series in Denver.
Before we look ahead to Game Seven, let’s dissect how the Spurs forced the winner-take-all matchup.
Next: Bounceback game from LaMarcus Aldridge
Bounceback game from LaMarcus Aldridge
Many Spurs fans expected Aldridge to come out strong in the first round after seeing him be such an effective leader and a dominant force over the last couple of years.
The first five games of the series were subpar from LaMarcus as he scored less than 20 points per game with a true shooting percentage of just 50.5%, and San Antonio had a net rating of minus-5 when he was on the floor.
Aldridge came out firing in the first quarter with 13 points and 3 rebounds and he did not slow down finishing the first half with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.
LaMarcus’ final stat line was his best of the series with 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 0 turnovers.
It was fantastic to see the Spurs’ unquestioned leader play his best when their backs were against the wall. Now we’ll see if he can do it again in Game Seven.
Next: DeMar DeRozan turning it on in the second half
DeMar DeRozan turning it on in the second half
DeMar DeRozan has made a habit of coming out slow in the first half only to turn it around in the second half.
DeRozan continued that trend tonight struggling to score the ball in the first quarter with only 2 points, but he excelled as a distributor dishing out 5 assists in the quarter.
DeMar must’ve bought in to Pop’s halftime speech as he came out incredibly aggressive in the third quarter trading buckets with Nikola Jokic and finishing the quarter with double-digit points.
DeRozan ended the night with 25 points (18 of them coming in the second half) on an efficient 12-of-16 from the floor. He also grabbed 5 rebounds and 7 assists with only 1 turnover despite making tremendous passes all night long.
The Spurs’ two stars stepped up when the needed it the most on Thursday night, and they will need even better performances from Aldridge and DeRozan on the road in Game Seven.
Next: The Spurs still don't have an answer for Nikola Jokic
The Spurs still don’t have an answer for Nikola Jokic
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It wasn’t all good news for San Antonio in Game Six as Nikola Jokic looked like a bona fide superstar.
Ever since he had a rough night scoring the ball in Game One, Jokic has been a major problem for the Spurs averaging 19.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 9 assists for the series.
Those numbers will go up considerably after a monster performance from the Serbian center on Thursday night where he dropped 43 points on 19-of-30 shooting with 12 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals.
San Antonio may have entered the game with the strategy of letting Jokic hurt them as a scorer and counting on the rest of the Nuggets’ supporting cast coming up short. That strategy worked well in Game Six, but we have to assume that Denver’s role players will play better at home in Game Seven.
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The Spurs need to provide some sort of resistance against Jokic if they are going to take Game Seven on the road this weekend.