Coach's Corner: Kevin Loughery on Spurs vs. Nuggets
By Kevin Loughery (As told to Brad Friedman)

The Spurs visit the Nuggets Wednesday 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN


Loughery
When you play San Antonio, it's always going to be a low scoring game, even thought Denver prefers an up-tempo pace. With the additions of Reggie Evans and Ruben Patterson, Denver's a much better team defensive team, much more physical, but they still really lack outside shooting. Boykins' injury really hurts them in that regard. He's one of their better outside shooters. Outside of Carmelo Anthony, they don't have much outside shooting whatsoever.

That's the biggest weakness with that club.

The other thing with Denver is, who's going to play? Is Kenyon Martin going to play? He picks games to play. They’re very tough around the basket when Martin's in the lineup with Camby.

When they lose, it's usually because the Spurs beat themselves -- at the free throw line.
Chris Birck/NBAE/Getty Images
Carmelo has become a really outstanding basketball player. He makes big plays. He's got much better conditioning. He lost weight from last year. He's willing to take big shots. He's concentrating better. Nuggets coach George Karl has done an excellent job not only with the team but the development of Carmelo Anthony.

San Antonio's a team that, when everybody plays thinks "Well, we should have beat them." They play such a grind-out game. They don't allow second shots. Their team defense is outstanding. But also as individual defenders, they are outstanding. Parker's good, Ginobili's good, Bowen's all-league, Duncan's all-league. They control the clock. They're deep on the bench.

The one thing is, I am not sure Duncan's 100 percent in watching San Antonio this season. He's having a little tougher time scoring. I don't know that Denver has to double-team him. Camby might be able to play him straight up.

You have to love the Bowen-Carmelo Anthony matchup. Carmelo's one of the best at his position and Bowen is an all-league defender. I also like the Tony Parker-Andre Miller matchup. Parker's become a very exciting player.

X-FACTORS

San Antonio's probably the favorite to win the championship. (But) I think Denver can play with them. I think the X-factor is whether Denver can hit perimeter shots. They won't get many interior baskets against San Antonio. Denver likes to run but the Spurs get back defensively better than anyone in the NBA.

BOTTOM LINE

The key to the game is, San Antonio, when they struggle, is not a very good foul shooting team. That can cost them a game any night. I think it has a big effect on Duncan's game if he misses the first couple of foul shots. He's very streaky. If he misses them, he has a tendency to have one of those 2-for-10 nights. That's an area where they have some weakness.

-- Kevin Loughery appears courtesy of the National Basketball Coaches Association.