Up-and-coming Nuggets ready to extend win streak against Spurs
Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets should feel fairly confident going into tonight’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. After all, they’ve won their last three straight games and certainly have that momentum going.
Tonight’s matchup is the first of three out of the next four in which the Nuggets will face playoff-caliber opponents. (The Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz are the other two.) They’ve got a tough week ahead. If they lose tonight, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the sprint.
The Spurs are one of the best teams in the NBA (second in the West, in fact). They may not be riding on a win streak at the moment, but they’re 32-9 overall, at the halfway point of the season. That’s pretty darn good. Obviously, if you’re a Spurs fan, you know the team’s biggest key to this record is Kawhi Leonard. Simply put, other teams just can’t seem to stop this force from finding the basket. Leonard is consistently the team leader in points per game, and his offensive game just keeps getting better and better.
Priority No. 1 for the Nuggets tonight will be containing Kawhi Leonard.
As for the Spurs, they’ll need to keep an eye on Nikola Jokic, who’s been stellar for Denver recently. He’s averaged 22.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 61.4 percent shooting in his last nine games. While those aren’t quite Kawhi-level stats, they’re enough to worry any team.
As a team, the Nuggets are outscoring other teams by 4.4 points per 100 possessions when Jokic is on the floor. Without him, Denver has been outscored by nine points per 100 possessions. Their offense rose from 20th last year to ninth this season. Stopping that offense won’t be easy for the Spurs, even with their third-ranked defense.