We will be treated to a potential Western Conference playoff preview today as the 35-29 San Antonio Spurs host the 42-20 Denver Nuggets (8:30 p.m. ET Monday).
As of right now, the Spurs are the eighth seed and would face the first-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round instead of the second-seeded Nuggets. However, they are just one-half game behind the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Clippers and have a great chance of moving up.
The Nuggets and Spurs have already met twice this season. Both games were close, with each team winning once apiece. The way these teams have played recently suggest another close game.
Which squad will end up pulling out a victory? We will examine some of the main influences before making our Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs predictions and betting picks based on those factors.
Will Derrick White’s Size Be a Nuisance for the Nuggets Again?
White, a second-year Spur, has come on extremely strong this season as a two-way player. The 6’5” guard is very active on defense. He contests shots as well as basically any guard in the NBA.
In the first two games between these squads, White’s defensive ability stood out. Despite playing just 28 minutes in both games, he totaled seven steals and two blocks combined. In the Spurs’ 111-103 win on December 26, White held Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to nine points on 4-of-19 shooting.
Denver has a solid set of guards, including Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Isaiah Thomas and Malik Beasley. However, none of them have great size. White’s length could be an advantage for him as he looks to continue his strong defensive play.
Will Isaiah Thomas Start to Figure Out His Role on the Nuggets?
The Nuggets’ bench had found a nice groove before Thomas made his season debut one game prior to the All-Star break. In six games since then, though, his true-shooting percentage is a very lackluster 50.8, and he has just nine assists compared to 13 turnovers. He is scoring well, with 10.2 points in 15.8 minutes per game, but he is taking way too many shots off the bench.
Denver’s offensive rating with Thomas on the floor this year is just 94.1. By comparison, the Nuggets’ offensive rating in all non-Thomas minutes this season is 113.4. Thomas’ ball-dominant style of play is clearly affecting the on-court chemistry of the team. Remember, Thomas is just 5’9” and a major negative on defense, so he needs to be a big help on offense to be worth playing.
Thomas needs to either fit in quickly or stop getting minutes. Against a Spurs team that is weak in backcourt defense outside of Derrick White, this game is a good opportunity for Thomas to find his proper role with the Nuggets’ bench unit.
Who Wins the Nikola Jokic-LaMarcus Aldridge Matchup?
With both of these teams, it is very clear who their most valuable player is right now: Jokic for the Nuggets and Aldridge for the Spurs. Both guys play center for their respective teams and are forces inside. Jokic is a bit more well-rounded with his outside shooting touch and excellent passing vision to go with his post skills, but Aldridge is a fantastic scorer as well while being a bit better on defense.
In the game where the Nuggets won by three points, Jokic was more efficient than Aldridge from the field and he also had nine assists to Aldridge’s three. In the Spurs’ eight-point win, though, Aldridge outscored Jokic 27-5 and had zero turnovers to Jokic’s five.
When both of these guys are on, they demand the respect of the opposing team’s entire defense. Let’s see which of the two All-Star big men has a more impressive game tonight.
Our Preview’s Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs Betting Predictions & Picks
The home-road difference is really big for both of these teams. Denver’s road winning percentage (51.7) is much worse than its home winning percentage (81.8). Likewise, the Spurs get a massive boost going from the road to their home floor (33.3 to 77.4 percent). That should be accounted for in predicting this game.
The Nuggets are not a big team on the perimeter, and perimeter size has bothered the Spurs all year. San Antonio has the more experienced team and is starting to get on another nice little run at home, while the Nuggets’ chemistry is fragile right now.
San Antonio’s defense is really good at home and the Spurs will dictate a slower pace and keep this contest from being too high-scoring. These are our Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs predictions:
- The odds with the big offshore U.S. sports gambling websites for this game are either evens (pick) or they favor the Spurs or Nuggets by 1 point. The best option looks to be Spurs +1pt @ -115 with Bookmaker.
- The over/under for this game looks too high at the projected 228 total points, based on how these teams play and what the first two contests between them went. Put your money on the under 228 @ -110 with BetOnline or Bookmaker.
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.