San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets
Tip off: 9:05 PM EST
Spread: SAS -4
M/L: SAS -175, DEN +155
The Denver Nuggets started as one of the pleasant surprises of the West. They have since battled injuries to several key players, including Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, who is still out. The result is now that the Nuggets are only 2 games above .500 and are on the brink of not making the playoffs. Gallinari’s ankle still isn’t ready, Lawson is playing injured, Nene Hilario is out with a strained calf, and Rudy Fernandez is day to day with back problems.
Lawson has emerged as one of the “second tier” point guards in the NBA. He’s not quite on the same level as Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and even Tony Parker, who he faces tonight, but he is a top 10 point guard and has fulfilled all of the promise he had coming out of North Carolina. He played the entire NCAA tournament with turf toe, and that toughness has carried on as a pro.
The Spurs dropped their last game by 40 points to the Portland Trailblazers, giving up 137 points while failing to score 100 themselves. Still the Spurs are 23-10, and have been doing it once again without Manu Ginobili, who is now out with a strained oblique.
Duncan has fallen off nearly to the level of an average player, but remains valuable as a defender on the interior. Parker is not as old as Duncan and Ginobili because he started his carer at age 19, and he is having one of his best seasons as a pro, proving he is still in the heart off his prime. Rookie Kawhi Leonard has drawn comparisons to Bruce Bowen from coach Gregg Popovich; and that is high praise. Lenoard is also a better scorer than Bowen was. Tiago Splitter has also appeared promising defensively and will continue to improve as scorer. Thrown in DeJuan Wagner, and the Spurs shouldn’t have to go through a long rebuilding period.
San Antonio is 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 games. The total has gone OVER in 5 of the Spurs last 5 games and they are 11-1 SU in their last 12 games. The Spurs are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 on the road.
Denver is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games and the total has gone UNDER in 4 of Denver’s last 6 games. They are 2-5 SU in their last 7 games at home, and only 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games at home.
Tony Parker vs. Ty Lawson
I already wrote about each of these guys, and the reason is because they are arguably the best on their respective teams now. Lawson is the Nuggets’ leading scorer with Gallinari out and Parker is putting up 19+ per game. They will light each other up too, because I think they are both better offensive players than defensive players. They gamble a lot defensively, and the fact that both have great cross over dribbles is going to result in a lot of penetration. After Lawson breaks past Parker, the Spurs have some decent interior defense, while the Nuggets have very little with Nene out. Mosgov can block some shots, but he’s far more known for getting dunked on.
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