Denver Nuggets

NBA Playoffs 2019: Denver Nuggets vs. San Antonio Spurs series preview

The field is set for the 2019 NBA Playoffs, which begin on Saturday.

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Series Schedule

Here is the schedule for the series between the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs, which begins on April 13:

  • Game 1 - Saturday, April 13 at Denver, 10:30 p.m.
  • Game 2 - Tuesday, April 16 at Denver, 9:00 p.m.
  • Game 3 - Thursday, April 18 at San Antonio, 9:00 p.m.
  • Game 4 - Saturday, April 20 at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m.
  • Game 5 (if necessary) - Tuesday, April 23 at Denver, TBD
  • Game 6 (if necessary) - Thursday, April 25 at San Antonio, TBD
  • Game 7 (if necessary) - Saturday, April 27 at Denver, TBD

Recapping the season series

Result: Teams split 2-2

Best game: March 4, 2019 - Spurs 104, Nuggets 103

Best performance: DeMar DeRozan (Dec. 26, 2018) - 30 points (9-17 FG), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals in Spurs win

The Nuggets and Spurs played each other close in two of their four matchups this season.

On Dec. 28, the Nuggets defeated the Spurs, 102-99, behind 31 points from Jamal Murray and 21 points, nine rebounds and nine assists from Nikola Jokic. On March 4, it was the Spurs who came out on top, as they held off a huge fourth quarter from Murray to get the 104-103 win.

As for the two other games: San Antonio defeated Denver in the first matchup of the season, 111-103, while the Nuggets beat them by 28 points on April 3.

The Nuggets were in peak form in that win - they assisted on 41 of their 47 shot attempts, led by 11 from Murray.

Key storyline: Denver's playoff experience

The Nuggets were one of the best teams in the league this season, but they don't have much playoff experience. Of the five players who led the team in minutes, Paul Millsap is the only one who has been in the playoffs before (87 career games).

Both Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray will be making their playoff debuts, as will the likes of Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Gary Harris and head coach Mike Malone.

The Spurs, meanwhile, have been to 22 consecutive postseasons, tying the longest streak in NBA history. They also have some players in the rotation who don't have much playoff experience, but DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli have all been there before.

The four of them play a significant role on the team, with DeRozan and Aldridge being San Antonio's leading scorers and Mills and Belinelli headlining the team's bench, which is one of its greatest strengths.

Will that experience hurt the Nuggets or do they have enough talent to overcome it?

3 Players to Watch

Derrick White

vs. Nuggets in 2018-19 (four games): 8.3 points (33.3% shooting, 18.8% 3-point shooting), 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds

According to NBA.com, nobody defended Jamal Murray for more possessions this season than White. White did a decent job on the explosive guard, holding him to 16-for-36 shooting while also limiting him to only 11 assists and forcing nine turnovers. With how important Murray's scoring is to the Nuggets - more on that below - his defence will be at the centre of this series.

Jamal Murray

vs. Spurs in 2018-19 (four games): 19.8 points (39.2% shooting, 41.4% 3-point shooting), 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds

When Murray plays well, good things usually happen for the Nuggets. Whereas he averaged 19.5 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the field and 39.7 percent from the perimeter in wins this season, he averaged 15.8 points on 38.9 percent shooting from the field and 29.9 percent from the perimeter in losses.

Nikola Jokic

vs. Spurs in 2018-19 (four games): 16.8 points (69.8% shooting, 50.0% 3-point shooting), 8.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists

Jokic is the reason the Nuggets have one of the league's most potent offences. He's coming off of a career year in which he was named an All-Star for the first time and worked his way into the MVP conversation with averages of 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. The Nuggets were 7.7 points per 100 possessions better offensively with him on the floor, the highest differential on the team.

Fast Facts

- The Nuggets finished the season ranked seventh in offensive rating (112.1), 10th in defensive rating (108.0) and eighth in net rating (4.0).

- The Spurs finished the season ranked sixth in offensive rating (112.2), 20th in defensive rating (110.5) and 12th in net rating (1.6).

- DeMar DeRozan averaged a career-high 6.2 assists per game. The Spurs have needed his playmaking after losing starting point guard Dejounte Murray in preseason to a torn ACL.

- Patty Mills (155) and Marco Belinelli (145) finished in the top-five in total 3-pointers made for bench players.

- Nuggets backup point guard Monte Morris had the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio (5.71) in the league.

- Wilt Chamberlain is the only centre who has ever averaged more assists in a single season than Nikola Jokic.

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