Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs (Game 3): Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX, USA.

When: Thursday, April 18th at 9pm EST.

How (TV): NBATV

Denver Nuggets (Away)

Head Coach: Mike Malone {All-Time: 212-222 | SAC, DEN}

Season Record: 54-28

Projected Starting Five: (G) Gary Harris – (G) Jamal Murray – (G) Will Barton – (F) Paul Millsap – (C) Nikola Jokic

Top Performers

  • C Nikola Jokic – 20.1 PPG | 10.8 RPG | 7.3 APG
  • G Jamal Murray – 18.2 PPG | 4.8 APG | .367 3P%
  • G Gary Harris – 12.9 PPG | .339 3P% | .799 FT%

After a disappointing yet understandable loss to the seasoned Spurs in game one, the Denver Nuggets regrouped and came away with a 114-109 victory at the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets struggled early in the game, as they fell behind by 10 points at halftime before putting together a 39 point fourth quarter to claim the win. Denver was powered by a balanced attack where four starters — Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap — each scored 20 or more points.

Jokic was again the nucleus of the offense, as he came two assists short of a second straight triple-double, scoring 21 points while grabbing 13 boards. Murray managed to rebound from his poor shooting performance in game one by posting a team high of 24 points, with 21 of those coming in the fourth quarter.

Denver’s win can be attributed to their backcourt’s ability to take care of the basketball, as Murray and Harris did not commit a single turnover all game. The Nuggets as a team refused to give the Spurs extra possessions by limiting themselves to only five giveaways.

San Antonio Spurs (Home)

Head Coach: Gregg Popovich {All-Time: 1245-575 | SAS}

Season Record: 48-34

Projected Starting Five: (G) Bryn Forbes – (G) Derrick White – (G) DeMar DeRozan – (F) LaMarcus Aldridge – (C) Jakob Poeltl

Top Performers

  • F LaMarcus Aldridge – 21.3 PPG | 9.2 RPG | 1.3 BPG
  • G DeMar DeRozan – 21.2 PPG | 6.0 RPG | 6.2 APG
  • F Rudy Gay – 13.7 PPG | 6.8 RPG | .402 3P%

Despite rattling the Nuggets in game one, the San Antonio Spurs were unable to build off of their momentum and succumbed to the Nuggets.

DeMar Derozan led all scorers with 31 points on 11 of 19 shooting from the field and a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line. San Antonio’s All-Star center, LaMarcus Aldridge, chipped in with 24 points in the loss.

The Spurs were unable to get their usual bench production from the likes of Rudy Gay, Marco Belinelli, and Davis Bertans. Gay, in particular, struggled on offense, hitting just two of nine from the field.

Everything seemed to fall apart in the fourth quarter, where the Spurs were simply not playing their brand of basketball. San Antonio struggled to get quality looks, often looking to DeRozan and Aldridge to create offense for themselves, as evidenced by their 20% assist rate during that frame.

What’s At Stake?

The Nuggets will enter this game looking to notch a second playoff win against the Spurs in a series for the first time since 1985 when Denver eliminated San Antonio en route to a berth in the Western Conference Finals.

The Spurs will look to defend their home court, where they have not been swept in the first round since moving to the AT&T Center in 2003, after previously calling the Alamodome their home.

Denver’s Five Turnover Performance Was No Fluke

Coach Mike Malone has placed a heavy emphasis on protecting the ball and valuing every possession. This has been clear throughout the season, as the Nuggets ranked eighth in the league with 13.4 turnovers per game. Having young yet trusty ball handlers in Harris, Murray, and an improving Malik Beasley, has been a key factor in Denver becoming one of the most disciplined teams in the NBA.

Davis Bertans: Gone Missing?

After a season where he was one of the deadliest three-point shooters at a 42.9% clip, the Latvian sniper has been very quiet this postseason with just eight points in the first two games of the series. Part of that can be attributed to him being lower on the pecking order behind the likes of DeRozan, Aldridge, and Gay. However, the fact that he has proven himself in the regular season should translate into more opportunities to contribute in the playoffs.

Look for coach Popovich to start drawing up plays like pin downs and pick-and-pops to give Bertans clean looks and build up his confidence.

Denver Nuggets Roster Notes

F Michael Porter – 21 Mar 2019 – Out (Back) – Porter Jr. has been participating in light contact 3-on-3 drills in practice, but is still a long shot to return this year according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic.

San Antonio Spurs Roster Notes

G Dejounte Murray – 13 Mar 2019 – Out For Season (Knee) – Murray is making progress and is practicing on his own, but he’s not expected to play this season, according to Jeff Garcia of FOXSanAntonio.com. He had ACL surgery on his knee before the season started.

X-Factors: Malik Beasley (DEN) vs Marco Belinelli (SAS)

No matter how well stocked the starting line-up is, it is crucial to give your team a scoring punch off the bench to give the starters some much needed relief. The matchup to focus on in game three will be between two reserves who can fill it up from the perimeter in up-and-comer Malik Beasley, and a seasoned veteran in Marco Belinelli.

Malik Beasley

Shooting Guard | 6-5, 195lb (196cm, 88kg) | Florida State | Exp. 2 Years

11.3 PPG | 1.2 APG | 2.5 RPG | 0.7 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 0.7 TOV | .474 FG% | .402 3P%

After spending a good chunk of his first two seasons in the G-League, Malik Beasley has taken what he learned there and excelled as a key reserve for the second seeded Nuggets. A solid three-point shooter, Beasley has been a welcome sight for Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, as the former Florida State Seminole has lightened their scoring load.

More importantly, he has improved his ball handling ability which used to be a glaring weakness coming out of college. With a 6.7% turnover rate –which ranks 5th in the league — Beasley has earned coach Malone’s trust as a ball handler.

Marco Belinelli

Shooting Guard/Small Forward | 6-5, 210lb (196cm, 95kg) | Italy | Exp. 11 Years

10.5 PPG | 1.7 APG | 2.5 RPG | 0.4 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 0.9 TOV | .413 FG% | .372 3P%

After stops in various NBA outposts, Marco Belinelli is back with the franchise that gave him his lone NBA championship ring in 2014. He may have aged some athletically, however, his shooting touch has not escaped him. What makes Belinelli such a fun player to watch is the way he manages to fire off long range bombs while off-balanced and coming off screens, all while maintaining a quick release that prevents defenders from altering his shot.

Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs: Odds

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