Spurs-Nuggets: A Home Thing

Before the first round NBA playoff series between the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets began, we thought we would see a tale of two cities. That’s because of how the teams play at home and on the road.

The Spurs broke that mold by winning the first game, though a Denver turnover in the final seconds handed it to San Antonio.

But statistics show the each team to be much better on the home floor, and that should propel fans from these cities to buy tickets.

Each team won both home games the four times they matched up head-to-head in the regular season.

The Spurs during the regular season gave up an average of 114 points on the road to just 106.7 at home. They were 32-9 at the AT&T Center and 16-25 on other courts. And they were just 1-11 when visiting other Western Conference foes.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets had the best home record in the NBA, and scored 13.1 points more, when you consider the per-100-possessions statistic. So the home factor should mean sold out tickets.

The Spurs and Nuggets are vastly different when it comes to playoff appearances, with San Antonio showing up in the postseason for 22 straight years, and Denver not making the playoffs in the past six.

DeRozan Has Been Crucial to SA

As is Coach Gregg Popovich’s plan this season, the Spurs have liked going to the paint and going to DeMar DeRozan. They aren’t a team to fire up a bunch of 3s, even though they shoot 39.2 percent from out there when they have to.

DeRozan has had probably the best season of his nine-year career, averaging 21.2 points and six assists a game. He’s taken up the slack from the Kawhi Leonard trade, and then some. And the Spurs have gone the way of DeRozan in the confrontations with the Nuggets this year. In the two games the Spurs won (at home, of course), the 6-7 guard had scoring performances of 30 and 24 points. In the losses at Denver, he put up just 15 and 11.

In a good sign for San Antonio, DeRozan showed up in the first game of the Denver series with an 18-point, 12-rebound performance.

DeRozan has plenty of running buddies. Derrick White, who had 16 points and five assists in Game 1, helps form the core of this team, along with LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay. If DeRozan slumps off, one or more of those guys will have to fill the void.

Jokic at Center of Denver Attack

The Nuggets are another team to favor the inside game, and that means 7-foot center Nikola Jokic. He has averaged 20 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists, one the major reasons the Nuggets have been one of the most efficient offenses in the league. And he is effective both inside and out.

During Game 1, Popovich and the Spurs came up with a way to contain the big man by making him more of a passer than a scorer. The result was a 10 –point night.

In situations like that, the Nuggets have come to rely on Will Barton, Malik Beasley, and Gary Harris to hit the 3s. But Denver shot just 21 percent from the arc in the game.

If the Nuggets are going to make up ground in this series, they will have to figure how to counter the Spurs’ tactics against Jokic, and of course make shots.

Witnessing the play of DeRozan and Jokic alone, is well worth tickets to Spurs v. Nuggets playoffs showdowns in this first round. San Antonio fans with get their first shot at the home action as Game 3 Spurs playoff tickets are on sale. The Spurs playoff home opener is set for Thursday at 8 p.m. CT at AT&T Center.