Denver Nuggets: 3 Reasons They’ll Win the Championship

Spurs upset Jokic, No. 2 Nuggets

DeRozan leads Spurs past Nuggets in Game 1, 101-96 | NBA | Journal Gazette

A year ago, these two teams met on the final day of the regular season with a lot more at stake.

The Nuggets, making their first playoff appearance in six years, trailed most of the night.

The Spurs marched to an early playoff victory behind DeMar DeRozan's 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists to along with Derrick White's 16 points, three rebounds and five assists.

The Nuggets offense just did not look the same without Jokic though, which is why Michael Malone subbed him back into the game just 3:30 into the second quarter.

Gary Harris led the Nuggets with 20 points and Murray scored 17. Denver head coach Mike Malone said that anytime Jokic put the ball on the floor, San Antonio smothered the big man with multiple defenders.

At the break, Denver was shooting just 42 percent from the field and were 2-of-13 from three-point range, while San Antonio was shooting 54 percent and were 5-of-10 from three. Nikola Jokic had led the Nuggets in most statistical categories in the regular season, so the Spurs made a point to take him away as much as they could. Reserve Rudy Gay scored 14.

Jokic hit two free throws and Millsap one to close it out.

San Antonio with not be able to keep up with the Nuggets West Coast pace throughout this entire series.

Timberwolves: Minnesota played without starters Karl Anthony-Towns (right knee), Jeff Teague (left foot) and Robert Covington (right knee) and key reserves Taj Gibson (left calf) and Derrick Rose (right elbow).

The Spurs also played well defensively, holding the Nuggets to 96 points in their first game. But the Rockets have been the best team in the second half for good reason. They will need to continue playing well defensively if they want to go to San Antonio with a 2-0 lead.

Despite the loss in Game One, Denver is still favored to win Game Two. The Nuggets became the first team in league history to upset a No. 1 seed when they defeated the Seattle Supersonics in five games during the first round of the 1994 playoffs.

Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series is Saturday night in Denver. Clutch, aka Jamal Murray will be called upon to be at his best at times when every possession could be critical. He's one shy of setting the all-time combined victories mark in National Basketball Association history, moving past Lenny Wilkens (1,332 in the regular season, 80 in the playoffs).

Stat leaders for Denver were Jokic, who recorded his first career playoff triple-double of 10 points, 14 rebounds, and 14 assists.

The Rockets are putting up 113.9 points per game on offense while shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from the arc.

"That is what you love about Nikola: 14 assists, 14 rebounds, 10 points", Malone continued.

The iconic coach and his seventh-seeded squad begin a first-round series Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, who are a little lean on playoff experience in returning to the postseason for the first time since 2013.

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz and Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz seen on the court during the game against the Houston Rockets on February 2, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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