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Matchup of the Game: Spurs vs. Nuggets

The matchup of the night between the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets tonight will be between Kawhi Leonard and Wilson Chandler.

Wilson Chandler has been stepping in for the injured Danilo Gallinari and has been looking to keep the momentum Denver has had this season intact. He had a great game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday with 21 points (9-15 FG shooting) and 6 rebounds. Kawhi Leonard will be in charge of taming Chandler's production, who'll look to bring energy to the starting unit of the Nuggets. They're also both defensive minded forwards, so this matchup will be huge on both ends of the court.

What Leonard must do on offense:

Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari are polar opposites of each other when it comes to mindsets. While Gallinari is a taller more offensive versatile player, Chandler is a more balanced player with the scale tipping to the defensive end. Leonard won't have as many open looks as he did against Gallinari, but his constant movement will give the Nuggets some trouble. With Chandler starting, it'll hurt the Nuggets' depth and that'll give Leonard an advantage early and late in the game. Leonard has been active this season rebounding the ball and leading the break when he's had the opportunity, which will give Chandler trouble with using up his energy. If Leonard can shoot the ball well and have Wilson Chandler's attention all night, Chandler will likely fade late in the game due to San Antonio's depth in the G-F positions.

What Leonard must do on defense:

He has to force Chandler to beat them with his jump shot. Wilson Chandler hasn't cracked 100 attempts on any spot on the floor this season, which makes him a perfect target for the Spurs' defense. Chandler is shooting 53% (48-91) from the restricted area and 45% (18-40) from the paint. Those are statistics that'll tell you that he's not much of a confident jump shooter and Leonard must take advantage of that. Gallinari brought some defensive mismatches in Denver's favor with his height at the small forward position and his speed/quickness if a team decided to guard him with a power forward. Now with Leonard likely forcing Chandler to shoot, he can help out on the other players that Denver puts on the court in double team situations.

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Matchup of the Game: Spurs vs. Nuggets

The matchup of the game for tonight will be between Kawhi Leonard and Danilo Gallinari as the San Antonio Spurs host the Denver Nuggets.

This will be the third meeting between the teams, but it will be the first meeting this season between the small forwards. Standing at 6'10" in the small forward spot, he's anything but that. He's one of the toughest players to guard in the league because he can easily shoot over the majority of small forwards in the league. If a team decides to put a power forward or legitimate big man on him, he uses his quick foot speed to get around them and to the rim at ease or baiting the defense for double teams.

Leonard will have to work hard against him since he's a few inches shorter at 6'7", but we have seen him do a great job defending the likes of Dirk Nowitzki in the past.

What Leonard must do on offense:

The Nuggets are not only a team that wants to get up and down on the floor, but they also want to defend like the San Antonio Spurs do with a good balance. The different with the Nuggets is that they're far more athletic on that end than the Spurs, so Leonard will have to look on being as versatile as he can on both ends. Gallinari isn't the best defender either, so he may help find holes in the Denver defense that will help him find open teammates. Leonard may have a hard time going to the rim with JaVale McGee protecting the rim at times, but if he can get by his man he'll find open big men with the opposing bigs' backs turned to them.

What Leonard must do on defense:

Gallinari is known as one of the NBA's best shooting big men and is very versatile on this end, but he tends to be two dimensional with most of his shots. He's shooting the majority of his shots this season from the restricted area at 56% (115-205) and from 3-point land at the top of the key at 35% (80-229). These two areas aren't the most surprising since they're the easiest set ups during transition for a team looking to run. Leonard has to stay in front of him above the 3-point line and force him to shoot as far away from the basket as possible. While Leonard is shorter than Gallinari, he does have the foot speed to recover from contesting over the 6'10" small forward. Leonard contesting and getting burned wouldn't be the worst thing either since the Spurs rely on help defense when necessary and he'll be met by Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter in the paint.

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