San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets Pick – Game 7
San Antonio Spurs (48-34, 43-38-1 ATS regular season) vs. Denver Nuggets (54-28, 42-40 ATS)
When: Saturday, April 27th, 2019 – 10:00 pm ET
Where: Pepsi Center – Denver, CO
Point Spread: SAS +6/DEN -6 (Bookmaker)
Situations: NBA Western Conference Playoffs – Round 1, Game 7
On Saturday evening in the suburbs of New Jersey, I’ll be witness to the two greatest words in sports: mobile betting. If your state hasn’t offered you this yet, do yourself a favor and start browsing Zillow. Nothing like a nice Sixers-Phillies parlay to really make you feel alive. Also, Game 7, baby!
I wish I could feign more enthusiasm, but the simple fact of the matter is that my mind has been elsewhere during this Spurs-Nuggets series. I’ve been way too preoccupied with Avengers: Endgame and the impending Battle of Winterfell in Game of Thrones to stay up-to-date on Derrick White’s effective field goal percentage. But as I’m celebrating the Sixers Game 1 victory over the Toronto Raptors, I’ll be sure to stay tuned to watch the best event in sports. Even with a win-or-go-home scenario, sportsbooks still like Denver as a 6-point favorite with the total set to a measly 209 points. Defense wins Round Ones, I guess.
Death, Taxes, and San Antonio
Big fans of the Oxford comma here at Predictem.com (in case you couldn’t tell already). But why would you care about grammar at a time like this? Spring has sprung, the birds are chirping, and Round 2 is (nearly) upon us. After a season of NBA talking heads lamenting the everlasting boring-ness of the San Antonio Spurs, we suddenly face the prospect of them advancing into the second round amongst the other seven teams that we all actually really care about. But in the past 21 seasons, we’ve only had 5 NBA second rounds without the San Antonio Spurs involved, and we’ve never had two in a row. We are always looking for even the slightest edge in the market, and we parse through historical data and statistics searching for one little something we can hold onto – and you’re going to go against 16-for-21? Are you sure about that?
If you’re looking for reasons to bet against San Antonio, you won’t find them here. The Spurs are led by two All-NBA players and are currently featuring a cameo from a late first round guard who is shooting 60% from the field in the series. Derrick White might be a peek-a-boo guy waiting to happen, but DeMar and LaMarcus haven’t even come close to having a signature performance yet. Gary Harris and Paul Millsap have done an excellent job limiting SA’s guys, respectively, but we’ve seen these two great players figure out their matchups before – I’m willing to bet on it again.
To take down Denver, San Antonio needs to ramp up their unused skill; they need to shoot some more 3s. The Spurs led the league in 3-point percentage while coming in last in 3-pointers attempted, but they have some flamethrowers – Bertans, White, Forbes, Gay, and Mills are all legit shooters. Variance is key in any Game 7, and you want to tip the scales your direction in any way that you can. The Spurs need to step into the modern NBA and embrace the art of the long ball. No time like the present.
The Jokic is On You
This isn’t the first round series that we deserve, but it’s the one we need right now. The Denver Nuggets have shown flashes in both directions through their first 6 playoff games as a unit – so which team are they? Are they the inexperience, deer-in-a-headlight team that has trouble scoring for large chunks of time? Or are they the dynamic, dangerous offensive superpower run through a generational big man made in the mold of Bill Walton? Jokic has been nothing short of spectacular, and the rest of the team has been everything short of consistent. The Nuggets are eventually going to be a problem that the league has to deal with – but right now, they’re just a problem for themselves.
Game 7s are where legacies are made, and Denver only has one person that has the potential to remembered in the light of the generational bigs that came before him. Nikola Jokic dominated the Spurs to the tune of a 43-point near triple-double in Game 6, and yet it was all for nothing. But even if Denver ends up going down in flames, the passive boy that stood before us back in October who went entire quarters and halves and games without attempting a field goal is dead and buried. The aggressive Jokic is here – but is he here to stay?
Denver is going to need him to be if they want to win. And we’re going to need him to be if we want the Nuggets to cover. Denver ruined the Spurs with a 3-point barrage in Game 5 in their home arena, and they’ll need more of the same to close out SA tonight. The Nuggets 8-man rotation is a cornucopia of young guys and underwhelming talent, but they revolve around the star that is Nikola Jokic’s other-worldly playmaking. They go as he goes, and if he goes tonight, they go to the second round tomorrow. That got confusing at the end, didn’t it? Jokic needs to have the game of his life, or Denver is going to lose – is that more straightforward for you?
Whoever wins this game has the distinction of being the least talked about Round 2 participant in NBA history. By the time the victor squares off against Portland in Game 1, we’ll be (earmuffs, kids) balls deep in the on-paper greatest second round match-ups of the century, and nobody is going to care about San Antonio or Denver. But somebody has to advance, and I have a hard time going against The Institution, even on the road in a tough environment. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have mixed playoff results in their respective careers, but they both have had their backs against the walls before, and they won’t be afraid of the moment. Denver has a chance to be the team of the Rebooted Roaring 20’s – but this is 2019, fellas. See ya next year.