San Antonio Spurs’ flaws get exposed in critical loss to the Denver Nuggets

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 05: Derrick White #4 of the San Antonio Spurs brings the ball up court against the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Visa Athletic Center. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 05: Derrick White #4 of the San Antonio Spurs brings the ball up court against the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Visa Athletic Center. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
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For the first time inside the Orlando bubble, the San Antonio Spurs looked like a team with crucial flaws during this loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Even though they fought hard and kept in it until the very end, today’s 132-126 loss to the Denver Nuggets put this San Antonio Spurs group into perspective. Entering the game without their starting frontcourt, as they have for the previous three games, the overwhelming size and shooting ability that Denver possesses truly put a damper on the Spurs’ playoff hopes.

A hot 2-0 start during the Orlando restart made San Antonio hopeful that a playoff spot was within reach and while they’re not technically out of the running, it’s going to be difficult to make it at this point. Luckily, there were silver linings throughout the night led by combo guard Derrick White‘s scoring output.

The third-year guard from Colorado contributed 23 points, seven assists, three boards and two steals in 33 minutes of play, once again leading the starters in +/-. One of the best two-way players in the sport at this point, White is going to be a focal point of this offense moving forward.

a thing of beauty@Dwhite921 | #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/NgwSJQal7o

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) August 5, 2020

Still, San Antonio succumbed to the Nuggets’ presence on the glass and beyond the arch. Whereas the Nuggets had seven players with at least three attempts from 3-point land, San Antonio only had four. At so many points throughout the contest, the young guards drove and kicked out to an open player around the 3-point line who proceeded to repeat the process. This team doesn’t have enough guys willing to take that shot to keep up with high-powered offensive teams like Denver.

It doesn’t help when you lose the rebounding margin by 11 boards. The Spurs’ small-ball group simply isn’t built to go up against teams like the Nuggets who run their offense through a mammoth of a man in Jokic and run lineups that consist primarily of tall floor-spacers.

However, there are still positive takeaways to keep in mind from this one. We got career-high scoring efforts from both Drew Eubanks (12 points) and Keldon Johnson (20 points). This was arguably the best performance of Eubanks’ career, as the two-way center hustled on both ends of the floor, made some smart defensive plays and put his athleticism to good use.

Strong take, strong finish.

? @FOXSportsSW pic.twitter.com/tyM0wsJe9e

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) August 5, 2020

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As for Johnson, every opportunity seems to prove that he’s worthy of more playing time. There’s not a day that goes by in which he doesn’t cease his chance to take this league by storm with a fearless attitude and physical nature. There’s a decent case to be made that Johnson should be starting for this team through the rest of the Orlando restart based on his output in these four games.

The Spurs’ bench outscored Denver’s 70 to 43 led by their veteran combination of a revitalized Rudy Gay (23 points, four rebounds, four assists, two blocks) and Patty Mills (14 points, three assists). Bench points are a category where the Spurs usually thrive, which wasn’t surprising in this one.

While he didn’t quite perform the way he has recently, it was another great game by DeMar DeRozan, who contributed 18 points, eight assists and two blocks in 32 minutes.

Next. Derrick White's case for an NBA All-Defensive Team

San Antonio goes another day of rest tomorrow before taking on the Utah Jazz on Friday afternoon.

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