The Nuggets were one of the three road teams to lose on that crazy first day of the NBA Playoffs. The Spurs built up an eight-point lead at the half and just kind of clamped down and kept things close enough in the second to hold on and win by five, 101–96.
San Antonio had five scorers in double-figures but the Nuggets’ Gary Harris led all scorers with just 20 points. Nikola Jokic had a 10-point triple-double with 14 assists and 14 rebounds.
The Spurs made seven of their 15 three-point attempts, while the Nuggets made just six, despite trying 22. Turnovers were just about equal.
Going into the series, I liked it as just about a coin flip with a slight edge to Denver because of the home court advantage and what it would mean in a Game 7. Now, the Spurs have seized that advantage and have to be looking to close things out in six. They do face one of the tougher you find in the NBA Playoffs: trying to win a Game 2 as the road side after winning Game 1.
The Nuggets are fighting for their lives on Tuesday night and will give it everything they have to at least go to San Antonio tied at one game apiece. Denver is a six-point favorite with a total of about 211.
The Spurs didn’t really outplay Denver in Game 1. The two sides were just about even but the Spurs managed to pull it out. Their role players, the likes of Bryn Forbes, Derrick White, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills, etc. kept things even with Will Barton, Monte Morris, Mason Plumless, Malik Beasley, etc.
I don’t expect that to happen in this game, simply because of the fate Denver faces if it loses a second game at home. The Nuggets will start fast and probably not let up. That starts and ends with the role players and the bench.
Mike Malone should be encouraged by Gary Harris, who has been a bit of an enigma for the Nuggets all season. The fact that he could get his shot off comfortably and score 20 points without turning it over represents an advantage the Nuggets may be able to exploit on the offensive end. Jamal Murray was also able to get his shot off down the stretch, when he became more aggressive. Against both Forbes and Patty Mills, Murray should be able to get where he wants to on the floor. If he is more aggressive from the tip, he’ll offer some valuable scoring the Nuggets missed in Game 1.
The Spurs are good and the separation between them and the Nuggets is not as big as your typical gap between a 2-seed and a 7. That said, the Nuggets have to respond and I fully believe they will, as the Spurs ready themselves to win two games back at home, which, at this point, is all they really have to do.
Play: Denver -6