The Denver Nuggets look to extend their winning streak to eight games when they play host to the San Antonio Spurs Friday in the second of two straight meetings. Denver topped San Antonio 106-96 on Wednesday night in the Mile High City.
The Nuggets made a splash at the trade deadline, acquiring forward Aaron Gordon from Orlando, and the team hasn’t lost since. Gordon has stepped right in as the team’s starting power forward and averaged 12.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Denver has surged into fourth place in the West, one game behind the LA Clippers.
San Antonio is trying to make a return to the postseason after a year away. The Spurs come into this one at 24-25 and two games behind Memphis for eighth place in the Western Conference standings. Gregg Popovich’s squad has stumbled, though, losing four in a row and eight of 10.
Looking at the NBA odds for this game, Denver is an 8½-point favorite, with the over/under set at 220½.
Defense has been a problem spot for the Spurs as they’ve allowed 123.7 points over their last six games, five of them losses. Granted, two went to overtime — one to double overtime — but this isn’t the same defensive team that brought San Antonio multiple championships under Popovich.
Forward DeMar DeRozan has been trying to carry the load for San Antonio, averaging team-highs in points (20.9) and assists (7.0) while playing 33.9 minutes per game. The 31-year-old needs some help, though, especially on the interior, where the center Jakob Poeltl is the highest-scoring big man for San Antonio at just 8.0 points per game.
Guard Dejounte Murray does a bit of everything for San Antonio, averaging 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.5 steals. Guard Derrick White adds 14.4 points and 3.3 assists per contest.
Because of San Antonio’s lack of an interior game, teams are able to guard the perimeter, leading to the Spurs shooting just 35.5% from beyond the arc, which ranks 22nd in the league. One area San Antonio excels at is limiting its turnovers, as its 11.0-per-game average is second in the NBA.
The Nuggets were already considered a threat in the Western Conference after last year’s run to the Western Conference Finals, but the addition of Gordon could put them over the top. Of course, when it comes to Denver, center Nikola Jokic is the main focus.
The 26-year-old is nearly a walking triple-double, averaging 26.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 8.7 assists — all team-best averages. He even throws in a team-high 1.5 steals per game and can do his offensive damage either inside with nifty moves or outside with a 3-pointer.
Guard Jamal Murray is also having another solid season, averaging 21.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. He’ll also be counted on for more defensive lockdowns on opposing guards with the trading away of defensive stalwart Gary Harris in the Gordon deal.
The development of Michael Porter Jr. has been expected, but it is still a lot of fun to watch. The 22-year-old is the team’s third-leading scorer at 17.0 points per game while also grabbing 7.6 rebounds per game. He’s a dangerous 3-point shooter, hitting a team-best 45.2% from beyond the arc.
Denver Continues Streak
The Nuggets have been re-energized by the acquisition of Gordon, who is able to play for a title contender for the first time in his NBA career. Having another scorer and rebounder helps all of the Nuggets’ stars, as they don’t have to do as much of the dirty work that Gordon excels at.
San Antonio is struggling to keep afloat in the Western Conference playoff race. The Spurs are continuing to try to rebuild on the fly, but a complete rebuild may be needed before San Antonio is able to contend for the title again.
Denver is just playing too well right now for San Antonio to be able to pull out a win in this one. When making your NBA betting picks, take Denver to win and cover in this one.