The West’s 2/7 matchup between the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs has been an excellent one with lots of twists and turns. San Antonio won Game 1 on the road to seize home-court advantage, but Denver has now won three of the last four games to take a 3-2 series lead.
San Antonio will be the home team today in a potential elimination Game 6 for the Spurs (8 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT).
The Spurs have gotten decent production from their starters, but where Denver has really had an advantage in this series is through its bench. The Nuggets are limiting the impact of San Antonio’s offensive-minded reserves very well, making the Spurs’ offensive firepower considerably weaker.
What will be the key factors in Game 6? Let’s discuss some of them and then offer an educated guess on how the betting lines will turn out with our Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs Game 6 predictions.
Will Spurs’ Top Three-Point Shooters Stop Hesitating?
In the regular season, the Spurs shot fewer three-pointers per game (25.3) than anyone in the league. Since they shot the league’s highest percentage from downtown (39.2), they were able to keep a balanced offensive attack. They had very little outside shooting firepower in the starting lineup and relied on their bench to provide that.
However, in the playoffs, their reserves’ minutes have decreased. San Antonio is now attempting just 18.4 threes per game and hitting those shots at just a 33.7 percent clip. Denver is doing a fantastic job defending the Spurs’ shooters, letting them get open less frequently than they are used to.
Now the Spurs’ shooters are used to being defended well, they are hesitating on outside shots even when the shots are open. The Nuggets’ defense has gotten into their heads.
Denver has outscored San Antonio by a total of 87 points from behind the arc in this series so far. If the Spurs have plans to force a Game 7, they can’t afford to keep letting the Nuggets dominate the three-point battle.
Will Denver Keep Taking Advantage in Transition?
The Nuggets have had more fast-break points than the Spurs three times this series. All three were wins. Overall, in Denver wins, the squad has an average fast-break point advantage of 17.7 to 8.7. In San Antonio wins, the Spurs have averaged 11.5 fast-break points to the Nuggets’ 9.5.
Denver generally plays a pretty slow pace, but the squad does have the ability to run in transition against the Spurs. San Antonio has some smaller, marginally athletic players in Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes who are easy to finish against. Other players, like Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl, are slower to get back on defense.
The Nuggets will be playing on the road in front of a hyped Spurs home crowd, but that shouldn’t daunt them. If they want to have consistent offensive success in Game 6, they can’t be hesitant to push the ball off misses and turnovers.
Does Gregg Popovich Have a Strategic Adjustment Up His Sleeve?
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has an excellent argument as the best coach in NBA history. He has five championships and a current streak of 22 consecutive postseason appearances as San Antonio’s coach.
Mike Malone has much less experience and is coaching his first playoff series as a head coach. Malone has made some nice adjustments in this series, such as starting Torrey Craig and focusing on limiting the Spurs’ shooters. In fact, you could certainly make the argument that Malone has outcoached Pop in his debut playoff series.
However, there is a reason that Pop is one of the smartest minds to walk the sidelines. His team is having trouble defending on the perimeter and manufacturing good looks on offense. Let’s see if he finds a way to shore up those weaknesses and remind the basketball world that he is an all-time great.
Our Preview’s Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs Game 6 Betting Picks & Predictions
While I think the Nuggets will still win this series, the Spurs have been a juggernaut at home all season. Their defense has been consistently more locked in at the AT&T Center than on the road. While home-court advantage has mattered less than expected in this series, I still think it’s a big factor.
The Spurs’ experience on the court and the sidelines will show itself in this important home game. So, for this Game 6 today, these are the Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs predictions for this preview:
- Depending on which of the top USA sports betting sites you look at, San Antonio is either a 2.5 or 3-point favorite in this game. I would recommend betting on the Spurs -2.5pts @ -115 with Bovada, Intertops or Bookmaker.
- I think San Antonio will display great commitment to transition defense in this game, limiting Denver’s fast-break points and keeping this game at a slow pace. This should be a reasonably close game where both teams work hard to manufacture their best possible shot on every possession. For the second of this preview’s picks, bet the under 208.5pts @ -110 with Bovada or Intertops.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.