Before we get started make sure to head on over to the ESPN/TrueHoop Network Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell for a mini-interview with a world renowned Nuggets blogger.
Beware the San Antonio Spurs. I was one of the moronic suckers that really honestly though the Spurs had no shot to keep their run of championships in odd years going in 2009. Well, guess who is second in the west after overcoming early season injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili?
Playing against the Spurs is always an event for the Nuggets due to the fact they have put the kibosh on Denver’s two most promising campaigns over the previous four seasons, but tonight’s game is especially vital. The winner takes the season series two games to one and thus earns the tiebreaker should it come into play.
The Spurs have won four straight and eight of their last nine with the sole blemish being a smack down at the hands of the Lakers at Staples Center. Tim Duncan has been playing great this season. His scoring is up a smidge and his rebounding has fallen off a bit, but what has made him so effective this season is he is averaging his highest assist rate of his career.
Tony Parker is scoring at a higher rate than in the past. After leveling off a bit in the middle part of January he has scored from 23 to 26 points over his last four games, although he did not post those totals in numerical order.
The only concern Spurs fans have really had lately has been whether or not Manu was going to be healthy enough to do Manu things. Well, over his previous three games he is averaging 28 points per outing. Last night he dumped in 32 points in Golden State as the Spurs came back from a double digit fourth quarter deficit to win in overtime.
We all know what those three can do, but to me the real key to the Spurs success this season has been Roger Mason. The only flashy number Mason is putting up is his 44.9% three point shooting, but if the Spurs need a big basket and the ball finds its way to Mason, he always seems to come through.
Hopefully the extra reps that Golden State put the Spurs through last night will help Denver tonight.
The Nuggets need all the help they can get. The last time they played the Spurs in Denver San Antonio simply demolished the Nuggets thanks to a 31 to 15 second quarter run that basically ended the competitive portion of the game. The Nuggets will have to close out the Spurs shooters, defend the pick and roll soundly and keep Parker and Ginobili out of the paint.
Obviously those things are not easy, but good teams are able to take away what their opponent does best.
One other thing to keep in mind is this is the Nuggets last home game until they play Boston on February 23rd.
A second other thing to keep in mind is George Karl has said he wants to limit Carmelo Anthony’s minutes in his first few games back from his fractured hand. It will be interesting to see how much Melo plays if the game is close, which I fully expect it to be.