San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets Preview and Pick

San Antonio Spurs (24-8) at Denver Nuggets (18-12), 9 pm Eastern Thursday
by Zman of

Western Conference division leaders collide when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets Thursday night.

NBA betting boards list Denver as two-point home chalk for Thursday night’s game, with a total of 200. Also, the Nuggets are listed at around -125 on various moneylines, with San Antonio getting +110 as road underdogs.

Its a bit difficult to discern just how the Spurs sit at the moment. They’re tied with Phoenix for the best record in the West, but have lost five of their last nine games. And each of their Big 3 Duncan, Parker and Ginobli have missed action recently because of injuries. And yet San Antonio has won three of its last four games after beating Memphis Sunday 111-87. Going into Monday’s play, the Spurs still lead the Southwest Division, but by just a game and a half over both the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Hornets.

On the other side of this match-up, Denver had a three-game winning streak snapped by a 105-95 home loss to Golden State Sunday, a game in which the Nuggets shot 35% from the floor. Denver now sits in a tie for first place in the Northwest Division with the surprising Portland Trailblazers.

On the season, San Antonio is 17-12 against the spread, but just 5-6 both straight up and vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are 14-16 ATS this season, and while 12-5 straight up just 8-9 against the spread at home.

San Antonio beat Denver in five games in the first round of the playoffs last season. And in the first meeting between these two teams this season, the Spurs beat the Nuggets in San Antonio 102-91 back on Dec. 15, and without Parker. Since Denver acquired Allen Iverson about 12 months ago, the Spurs have won seven of nine meetings with the Nuggets, and covered the spread in seven of those games. And all nine of those games stayed under their totals, by averaging just 182 total points per. And the points totals for those last nine meetings have been remarkably consistent, at 193, 171, 185, 187, 187, 184, 177, 175 and 175.

Statistically speaking, San Antonio ranks 3rd in the league in per-game point differential at +7 per game and second in rebounding at +3.1 per game. Meanwhile, Denver ranks 10th at +3.3 points per game but 22nd in rebounding at -1.1 per game.

Also, the Spurs are shooting 47% from the field as a team, 39% from 3-point range and 76% from the free-throw line, while the Nuggets are shooting 46% from the floor, 34% from long range and 75% from the line.

As mentioned earlier, San Antonio is banged up. Duncan has been dealing with both a sore knee and ankle; Parker has a bad ankle of his own; and Ginobli, who’s missed the Spurs’ last three games, is listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game with a sprained finger.

On the other side, Denver F Kenyon Martin has missed four of the Nuggets’ last five games with a bad hammy; he’s listed as both questionable and probable for Thursday’s game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranks San Antonio 3rd at 96.3, Denver 13th at 91.9.

The o/u is 13-16 in Spurs games this season, which are averaging 191 points per, while the totals are 15-15 in Nuggets games, which are averaging 211 points.

Zman’s Pick: Denver -2.