Game Preview: Denver Nuggets In San Antonio for Game 3
After a second-half comeback led to a much-needed victory for the Denver Nuggets in Game 2, the series shifts to San Antonio for the next two games. After falling behind by 19 points in the third quarter, Jamal Murray scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead Denver to the victory that tied up this first-round series.
"We don't quit,” Denver shooting guard Malik Beasley said. “Playoff experience matters, but as long as you play hard and play together, that's what matters on the court."
Murray was one of four players to score at least 20 points for the Nuggets in the 114-105 victory, with Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Nikola Jokić being the other top scorers. A key to Denver’s turnaround was 3-point shooting. After struggling from beyond the arc in Game 1, the Nuggets connected on 10-of-24 from three on Tuesday.
As the Nuggets go on the road for the next two games, it will be crucial they continue to execute at a high level. The Spurs finished with a 32-9 home record during the regular season, which was tied for the third-best home record in the league. Denver hasn’t won a game in San Antonio since March 4, 2012.
Here are some keys to Game 3:
1) Continue to get out in transition: After Denver didn’t score in the fast break during Game 1, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone emphasized the importance of pushing the pace more to get easier baskets, which is exactly what happened in Game 2. Denver finished with 21 fast break points compared to just six for the Spurs, which allowed Denver’s offense to flow and capitalize on strong defensive plays. In order to avoid circumstances when the offense stalls in the half court, pushing the ball in transition can be key for the Nuggets’ offense, especially against a Spurs’ defense that struggles to defend transition opportunities.
2) Efficient ball movement: Although the Spurs didn’t send double teams toward Jokić in Game 2 as often as they did in Game 1, they still attempted to throw off the All-Star’s rhythm in the post. As a result, solid ball movement created more opportunities for other players such as Harris, Millsap and Malik Beasley. Denver finished with 29 assists and only six turnovers, which played a key role in Denver’s efficient offensive night and stellar shooting performance.
3) Execute defensive game plan: The Nuggets had another sound defensive performance in Game 2, holding the Spurs to 105 points and just 27.8 percent shooting from three. Millsap and Jokić continued to have success against LaMarcus Aldridge, limiting the Spurs’ All-Star to 8-of-20 shooting from the field. Denver also did a better job of keeping track of off-ball shooters and contesting 3-point attempt from San Antonio, which played a key role in the second-half comeback. The Nuggets will need to know the Spurs’ personnel on the court at all times and properly execute the defensive strategy in a tough road environment.
Game 3 tips at 7 p.m. MT (WATCH: ALTITUDE, NBA TV, RADIO: KKSE-FM 92.5).