San Antonio Spurs (50-36) Vs. Denver Nuggets (56-30)
NBA Basketball: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 (Pepsi Center)
Line and Odds: Denver Nuggets (-5.5)
Free ESPN NBA Picks San Antonio Spurs Vs. Denver Nuggets
In tonight’s game five, the series shifts back to Denver for one game. The series is currently dead-even at 2-2 and this is likely the most well-balanced series among the first round match ups. While the Nuggets are a brilliant young team with tremendous depth, their lack of playoff experience has shown at times. On the other end, the Spurs veteran experience and coaching has made them a formidable opponent.
Despite having home court stolen in game one, the Nuggets came back strong in game two. Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris all recorded at least 20 points, and Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Mason Plumlee all provided significant sparks off the bench. Aside from Jokic and Beasley however, much of the team went cold for game three. The team did recover in game four behind a 29 point, 12 rebound, 8 assist performance from Jokic, and strong showings from Beasley and Murray.
For the Nuggets to take their first lead of the series, it all starts with Jokic. While he had a triple double, he had just 10 points, which is never ideal for a team’s best player. In the following three games, Jokic fell just short of a triple double each night, however his scoring improved drastically as he dropped at least 20 points in each game. When Jokic gets going offensively, it forces teams to focus him, which opens up opportunities for him to flash his brilliant passing ability. The Nuggets are at their best when they play through Jokic, and they should look to do the same tonight.
Through the Spurs first four games, their best players have been DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, as it should be. DeRozan is averaging 23.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists on 49.3% from the field. Aldridge is putting up 20.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 43.2% shooting. The problem for the Spurs is that they either need significant bench contributions or for one other player to have a big game in order to win.
In game one, six Spurs recorded at least 14 points, and Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli and Davis Bertans were solid off the bench as well. In game three, six Spurs scored in double figures, but the main difference maker was Derrick White’s 36 point explosion. Conversely, in games two and four only three and four Spurs reached double figures, respectively.
ESPN NBA Scores Denver Nuggets Vs. San Antonio Spurs
The Nuggets have the best player on the floor between the two teams, which is a major boost in a highly contested series. Jokic has been incredible the last three games, and if he continues to perform that way tonight, Denver has a high probability of victory. For the Spurs, their win condition is more difficult as their offense revolves around numerous players getting shots up and performing well. At home, I like the Nuggets and they’re my pick to win and cover tonight.
Pick: Denver Nuggets (-5.5)