San Antonio Spurs vs Denver Nuggets Preview and Pick

San Antonio Spurs +4.5 (33-14) at Denver Nuggets -4.5 O/U 198.5 (31-16) 9:30 PM ET Tuesday February 3, 2009
By Jason Green at

Tonight the San Antonio Spurs travel to the Mile High City to play the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets can really show they are a real threat in the Western Conference with a win over a hot Spurs team that has won 4 in a row and 8 of their last 10 games. The Nuggets are in 1st place in the Northwest Division, but only have a slim one game lead over the Portland Trailblazers. Nobody is really talking about the Spurs this season, but they have the 5th best record in the league and that was after a so-so start without Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in the lineup. The last 3 NBA Championships in odd years have been won by the Spurs, and let’s see, this year’s final is in 2009, so can they keep up their streak?

This season the Nuggets are 19-6 at home and the Spurs are 15-7 in away games.

Hoops bookies have the Nuggets as 4.5 point favorites with a total around 198.5. The Nuggets are posted at -145 as home favorites and the Spurs are posted at +125 as away dogs.

The Spurs are coming off a comeback in OT 110-105 over the Golden State Warriors last night. The high scorer in that game for the Spurs was Tim Duncan going for 32 points on 13/20 shooting and he also grabbed 15 boards. For the game the Spurs shot 41/89 for a FG% of 46.1%. On D the Spurs allowed the Warriors to shoot 44/94 for a FG% of 46.8%.

The Nuggets have had a long rest for this big game, as they come into tonight’s game after beating the Charlotte Bobcats 110-99 on Friday night. The high scorer for the Nuggets in that game was Nene going for 22 points on 10/11 shooting and also grabbing 11 boards. For the game the Nuggets shot light out going 40/73 for a FG% of 54.8%. On D the Nuggets allowed the Bobcats to shoot 35/77 for a FG% of 45.5%.

This season the Nuggets rank 4th in scoring (104.1 ppg) and the Spurs rank 21st (97.4 ppg). Defense is another matter, as the Spurs are solid ranking 7th in points allowed 94.3 ppg), while the Nuggets rank 19th (100.3 ppg). The one weakness of the Spurs on D is they are allowing opponents to shoot 38% from 3-point land. Both teams are just decent on the boards, as the Nuggets have a rebounding differential of +0.7 rpg and the Spurs are at -0.1 rpg.

This season the Nuggets are 27-19-1 ATS and the Spurs are 22-23-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Nuggets are 25-22-1 and the Spurs are 20-25-1.

On the injury front neither team is reporting any significant injuries.

The key match up in this game may be at the PG position with Tony Parker (20.7 ppg) and Chauncey Billups (18.6 ppg). Billups will have to keep Parker from penetrating and Parker will have to do the same against Billups. If the Nuggets are in a half court set Billups may post up the undersized Parker, which will create problems for the Spurs if the Nuggets are knocking down the 3 pointer.

One of the reasons that Denver is playing so well this season is C Nene (15.1 ppg), who is leading the league in FG%. The Spurs have to play good D on him and not give him easy buckets. Duncan will play Nene on D and that will be a great match up to watch, as if Duncan can shut him down the Nuggets will have to settle for jumpers.

The Nuggets will have a hard time stopping Duncan, as they are not the best interior defensive team. If Duncan and Parker are working their high-low magic, then it will be hard for the Nuggets to win.

The Nuggets will run tonight and the Spurs will have to get back on D. If the Spurs can limit the Nuggets to playing a, mostly, half court offense they will win this game. If the game becomes a shootout the Nuggets will have the advantage.

Carmelo Anthony (21.1 ppg) will be back for tonight’s game and the Nuggets will need his scoring tonight. He will also have to step on D, which is not his strength, on Manu Ginobili (15.8 ppg), who is on fire lately averaging 28 points in his last 3 games.

The Nuggets need to win these types of games if they want to challenge for the Western Conference title.

Jason’s Pick: Denver wins and covers at home.