The Denver Nuggets host the Spurs in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday night. The Spurs are back in the playoffs for the 22nd straight year under head coach Gregg Popovich but they're one of the weakest teams Popovich has coached while the Nuggets made the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 PM ET
The fact that the Spurs made the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference, even with the No. 7 seed, tells you why Popovich is considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time.
The Kawhi Leonard situation could've been handled differently but what's done is done and the Leonard and Danny Green trade did bring DeMar DeRozan (21.2 points, 6.2 assists, 6.0 rebounds) and Jakob Poeltl (5.5 points, 5.3 rebounds).
The Raptors won the trade, at least this season but Poeltl's development is admirable and the Spurs are way better when he's on the court. San Antonio is 16-4 when Jakob Poeltl plays at least 20 minutes and just 23-29 when he plays less than 20 mins. The lesson here is: play him often and maybe he can help LaMarcus Aldridge counter Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap.
No Answer for Jokic
Speaking of Nikola Jokic (20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists), he's a top 5 MVP candidate this season and he will be the best player on the court. The Nuggets also have Jamal Murray (18.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds) who could be the second-best player on either team and Paul Millsap (12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds). After that, it's a number of valuable role players like Gary Harris, Will Barton, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris, who all score at least 10.4 points per game.
The San Antonio Spurs are:
2-6 ATS in their last eight games overall
1-4-1 ATS in their last six games following an ATS loss
1-5 ATS in their last six games following a straight up win
1-6 ATS in their last seven games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
The Denver Nuggets are:
6-2 ATS in their last eight games playing with two days of rest
The favorite is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings
The Nuggets don't have star power like the Warriors, Rockets or Thunder but they make up for it with depth and they're the better team in this series. Game 1 will prove this.
NBA Pick: Nuggets -5.5 (-110) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzonaff