San Antonio has lost its last two straight games for the first time this season partly because of Tim Duncan’s absence, but more so, because of both he and Tony Parker’s are now injured. Before Tony went down, the Spurs were still racking up the wins with Manu “The Flopper” Ginobili picking up Timmy’s slack and averaging 37 points in the first two games that Duncan was out for. Now that Tony is also sidelined there is just too much slack for the rest of the Spurs to untangle resulting in their most recent, 96-84, loss to the Golden State Warriors and, 102-97, defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.
On the other hand, the Nuggets are a team that is seemingly starting to put all their loose pieces together with five wins in their last six games, and they still don’t even have a full roster of players.
What else is new, right?
Things to look for in tonight’s game are which team dictates the tempo, shooting percentages (which, for the Nuggets, will also be closely tied to the tempo of which the game is played), Denver’s assist total, and San Antonio’s offensive rebound total.
If the Denver Nuggets want to leave the Alamo city with a win tonight they will need to get out and run the Spurs into submission. San Antonio is a team that likes to milk every possession for the absolute best scoring option and have been the best team in the league for years now because of how efficiently they do it. Good shots are what the Nuggets hope for. Great shots are what the San Antonio Spurs work for. Denver needs to limit San Antonio to contested, decent looks at the basket and then rebound like gangbusters to get the legs of the fast break established.
This is where things get pivotal.
From there, one team should be able to establish a favorable shooting percentage with the Nuggets hopefully doing so by getting a plethora of fast break opportunities from point number one. San Antonio wants to grind the clock and finish every 24 seconds with a deuce and shoot the ball about 80 times making about 37 of them while limiting the Nuggets to about 75 shots when all their turnovers are accounted for. The Nuggets need to get about 90 shots on their basket and make about 42 of them to win. Which, again, is why the game’s shooting percentages for both teams is so closely tied to the tempo.
Denver will also have to share the ball somewhere in the vicinity of 25-30 assists to defeat the Spurs. The Nuggets are 17-1 when AI double-doubles with assists and points and if he can give Denver 10-12 assists with at least one other person, ehh hmm Anthony Carter or Carmelo Anthony, recording at least half of what AI does the Nuggets chances of victory are greatly increased. The Nuggets can ill-afford to have Marcus Camby snatching junk off the glass and then putting the ball on the floor, so my prescription is for everyone to get the ball to a guard and run the floor like someone is chasing you. The pass is coming, rest assured of that, but the assist total can’t grow if the Nuggets get caught having sticky fingers.
My last point to take notice of is how many offensive rebounds the Spurs can grab, and If you add up all my previous points it shouldn’t be hard to understand why this is so important. If the Nuggets give the Spurs two and three chances to score on too many possessions they will surely lose because 24 seconds is a long time to play defense for; let alone trying to play respectable D for 48 seconds or, gasp, over a minute. My pivotal point in this aspect of the game is eleven. If the Nuggets can hold the Spurs to eleven or fewer offensive boards they can, and should, win this game. If the Spurs collect more second-change opportunities than that… It could be a long night!
Should be a good one. Let’s get some chatter in here, Nuggets Nation!