The Denver Nuggets are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. While they’ve been one of the biggest surprises this NBA season, they faded down the stretch and enter the playoffs at a low point. They are just 5-6 over their last 11 games and nearly blew the No. 2 seed. Can the old guard San Antonio Spurs surprise them here?
NBA Playoffs Point Spread and Betting Analysis
The Spurs struggled mightily on the road throughout the regular season with a 16-25 record as the visiting team. These teams split their four regular season meetings with Denver winning both games at home. San Antonio went 0-3-1 against the spread in its last four games versus Western Conference opponents to close out the regular season. However, they were 9-5 ATS and 10-4 SU on two days’ rest this season.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets owned the best home record in the NBA this season with a 34-7 mark at the Pepsi Center. Denver is 6-2 in its last eight games when played on two days’ rest. Despite the strong record at home overall, the Nuggets are just 2-5 against the spread in their last seven home games.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs won 48 games this season, so it’s not as if they were bad. However, 48 games is only good enough for seventh in the West, so they’ve clearly faded from the days when they used to be near the top. They had good and bad moments this season as evidenced by how they finished the year. They finished on a 15-5 run, which included a nine-game winning streak and a 3-5 stretch. One of those losses was a 113-85 blowout loss at Denver, though.
There are plenty of question marks surrounding the nucleus of this San Antonio team heading into the playoffs. After all, leading scorer Demar DeRozan struggled mightily in past postseasons while with the Toronto Raptors, which was a big reason why he ended up with the Spurs in the first place. After an impressive regular season, can DeRozan finally break through when it matters the most? San Antonio will give up the size advantage with LaMarcus Aldridge doing his best to keep up with Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee, but can their guards keep up? Guys like Derrick White, Bryn Forbes and Lonnie Walker IV have little playoff experience. If they get worked on the perimeter by Denver, they’re in trouble.
The Nuggets have some concerns entering the playoffs as their offence was among the worst in the NBA down the stretch of the season. They averaged a paltry 102 points per night over their final 11 games and now have to face a team that has typically been known for its defence.
Denver will benefit from a major talent advantage up front with Jokic, Millsap and Plumlee leading the way. That trio was a big part of the Nuggets’ success throughout the regular season and that will likely continue in Round 1. Meanwhile, Denver also has an intriguing guard trio with Malik Beasley and Monte Morris stepping up to compliment Jamal Murray. Murray has been impressive but Beasley faded in March. After averaging 16.5 points per game in February, he was down to just 8.7 in March, which was part of the reason the team slumped. Morris and Jokic were similar as both lost about three points off of their averages month-over-month.
Still, Beasley and Morris have played underrated roles throughout the regular season and could really shine in this series. Factor in the presence of veteran Gary Harris, who still has the potential to take his game to another level in the post-season, and the Nuggets may have the edge heading in to Game 1.
The good news for Denver is that this Spurs team is one of the weakest in the Gregg Popovich era. They finished 12th in points allowed per game, which is a big drop as they led the league in this category last season.