Scouting the Nuggets: Nuggets similar to Spurs, except for defense

“They’re very good at scoring the basketball.”TL

Those words came from San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker regarding the Denver Nuggets, after the Spurs (25-11) defeated the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.

“They had a lot of injuries the last time we played them, and we have a lot of respect for George Karl and what they’re doing,” said Spurs forward Richard Jefferson of the Nuggets Friday as well.

“They’re very similar to us in the sense that they spread the ball a lot. A lot of different guys touch the ball, a lot of different guys can beat you on a given night.”

The Spurs will host the run-and-gun Nuggets who score the most points per game in the league tonight as the Nuggets make their last trip to San Antonio this season. The Spurs last defeated the Nuggets just before the All-Star break, that game didn’t feature many parts of Denver’s team as multiple players were injured.

The Nuggets are still looming with injuries but there is a chance their injured players could all potentially play as Timofey Mozgov is listed as a game time decision, and Rudy Fernandez, Nene, and Danilo Gallinari are all listed as questionable tonight.

Case No. 37: Denver Nuggets (20-17)

Road record: 10-9. Last 10 games: 5-5

Commendable areas for the Nuggets

  • 1st: Points per game (103.8)
  • 2nd: Assists (23.1)
  • 3rd: Field Goal Percentage (47%)
  • 4th: Steals (8.7)
  • 6th: Offensive rebounds (32.5)
  • 7th: Rebounds (43.5)

Offensively, the Nuggets dominate in almost every statistical category. One area of the floor the Spurs will have to pay particular attention to is the offensive rebounds from the Nuggets. Denver shoots a lot of threes in a game, and usually when they miss those long rebounds, they go to either their big men or other backcourt players. The Spurs must rely on everyone to crash the boards on defense, not just the frontcourt.

One other area I was impressed with from the Nuggets in the number of steals they make per game, those steals usually open to fast break points which would uncover why they’re second in assists and third in field goal percentage.

Deficient areas for the Nuggets

  • 4th: Turnovers (15.3)
  • 28th: Opponent points per game (101.2)
  • 22nd: Personal Fouls (19.3)
  • 20th: Three point shooting percentage (32%)

As evidenced by the numbers, the Nuggets’ defense is their biggest weakness. The fouls per game could lead to a lot of free throws for Parker and Tiago Splitter. The three point shooting percentage is also a key area that shows that the Nuggets are suspect from behind the arc, even though they get many looks from that area of the floor.

The King

Danilo Gallinari (Questionable)– 17 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 11.7 FG (45%), 4.5 3PT FG (31%), 5.8 FT (89%)

He’s no Carmelo Anthony, but he doesn’t have to be since the Nuggets have plenty of scoring options.

The Knights

  • Ty Lawson – 15.7 points, 6.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 12.6 FG (47%)

Lawson will face former North Carolina teammate Danny Green tonight; Tar Heel moments might be shared.

  • Al Harrington – 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1 steal, 12 FG (45%), 4.5 3PT FG (31%)

Harrington is usually Denver’s go-to man off of the bench, Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter will have to cover the entire floor on the defensive end with Harrington out there, because Harrington can hit from any spot on the floor.

  • Nene (Questionable) – 13.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 10 FG (52%)

At the end of the day, Nene is still Denver’s anchor in the paint, the Spurs will need to box out and get ready for a physical game with Nene.

  • Arron Affalo – 12.8 points, 10.1 FG (43%)
  • Andre Miller – 10.5 points, 6.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 9.1 FG (41%)
  • Corey Brewer – 10.2 points, 1.2 steals, 8.5 FG (45%)

The Bishops

  • Rudy Fernandez (Questionable) – 9.3 points, 1.1 steals, 7.6 FG (45%), 4.1 3PT FG (32%)
  • Kenneth Faried – 8.1 points, 1.1 blocks, 5.5 FG (58%), Longest hair on the floorKF

The Pawns

  • Timofey Mozgov (Game Tim Decision) – 5.8 points, 1.1 blocks
  • Chris Anderson – 202 tattoos, 5.2 points, 1.4 blocks

Positional Battles

  • Point guards: Parker, T.J. Ford vs. Lawson, Miller = Spurs
  • Shooting guards: Danny Green, Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili (Game time decision), James Anderson vs. Affalo, Fernandez = Spurs
  • Small forward: Jefferson, Kawhi Leonard vs. Gallinari, Brewer = Spurs
  • Frontcourt: Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner vs. Harrington, Nene, Faried, Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, Anderson = Spurs
  • Coaches: Gregg Popovich vs. George Karl = Spurs

Game Expectation

For the Spurs, transition defense and taking care of the ball will be most important if they want to make Sunday a win. On defense, stopping the Nuggets’ fastbreak will be crucial, as will switching on the perimeter as Denver tries to find the open shooters.

If the Spurs share the ball on offense and wait for the right shots to present themselves, I don’t see how they can’t win this game?

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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