The seventh-seeded Spurs were in control of their series with the Nuggets until Game 4, when Denver, down 2–1, put together a complete performance in a resounding win, spearheaded by Jamal Murray and backed up by Nikola Jokic.
Denver took that momentum back home with it and didn’t need to expend much energy in the fourth quarter on Tuesday to preserve its double-digit win. Suddenly, the Nuggets have the first chance to end the series, with a win back in San Antonio in Game 6.
Will the Spurs respond, having lost momentum, to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 back in Denver? Oddsmakers think so, but just barely. The home Spurs are 2.5-point favorites with a total between 208 and 209.
I was keen on the Spurs before this series began. Even so, the last play I made here was on Denver in Game 2 because of the spot. The Nuggets had to win at home to avoid an 0–2 hole, going on the road. They blew the doors off San Antonio in the fourth quarter to gift us a cover we had no business getting for three quarters.
Denver faced a sort of must-win in Game 5, too, as losing a home game in the series would have spelled doom, going back to San Antonio. This is the first time the Spurs play with their backs up against the wall, though.
I think we’ll see a slightly different level of play. Contrary to the score of the last two games, these teams are exceptionally close. After losing two in a row and facing elimination at home, the Spurs will play their best game, which will be far too much for the Nuggets to overcome, especially with Big Honey looking just a little fatigued; he’s had to play hard all season and, while he’s still got some in the tank, it may be prudent for him to save some of it for Game 7, where, back at home, Denver has a better chance to close out the series anyway.
San Antonio needs an offensive lift, though. The Spurs have looked flat and fairly predictable on the offensive end in the last two games. It sure would help if one of the old men off the bench — Patty Mills, Rudy Gay, Marco Belinelli — could give them a lift with a big game. That’s what the home court is supposed to do — liven up the role players on one side, while keeping them down on the other.
I would be surprised if the Spurs went down at home. I don’t expect the gap to be particularly small, either, as the Nuggets eventually begin to look forward to a deciding game at their place. I feel great laying just two-and-a-half in this spot.
Play: San Antonio -2.5