Weekly Preview: Spurs to Face the Nuggets and Thunder

In the Weekly Preview, we’ll take a look at the upcoming games for the San Antonio Spurs. This week, the Spurs play the Denver Nuggets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The San Antonio Spurs just had a week they’d like to forget. The Spurs have struggled away from home all season and are currently 0-4 on the Rodeo Road Trip. They currently sit 4.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Things aren’t getting any easier, with a back-to-back against playoff teams in the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets
Monday, February 10, 8:00 PM CT

This is the first matchup between the two teams since their grueling seven game first round series last year. While the Spurs have dropped four straight, the Nuggets have won seven of nine, including three straight games. In their last game, Jamal Murray’s 36-point performance against the Phoenix Suns was crucial in their 117-108 victory.

Despite some early season struggles, Nikola Jokic is back in fine form (Photo via Twitter)

When it comes to the Denver Nuggets, it all begins and ends with Nikola Jokic. Jokic struggled mightily to start the season. After a fantastic season last year, he had a drop in usage rate, and a 6.0% and 8.5% drop in field goal and three-point percentage, respectively. However, he has turned it around on both ends of the floor in December onward. His shooting has improved by the month, and defensively he is at a career-best +3.03 Defensive Real Plus-Minus. Also, his +1.17 Defensive Player Impact Plus-Minus has him ranked as one of the best defensive centers in the league.

The Spurs tend to be quite weary of big men who can deter them from attacking the paint. Jokic caused the Spurs all kinds of headaches last year in the playoffs. The Spurs frontline will need to bring their A game, as Jokic is not only one of Denver’s main scoring threats, but he’s also one of their best playmakers as well.

San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder
Tuesday, February 11, 7:00 PM CT

Last Meeting: Spurs 103, Thunder 109

The Spurs have a tough back-to-back with their second night in Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder. The Thunder have won four of their last five, most recently dropping a one point contest to Boston. They are currently the sixth seed in the West, owning the tie break with the Dallas Mavericks who share the same record.

Even though he’s 34, Chris Paul is still a force to be reckoned with (Photo via Twitter)

As he enters the twilight years of his career, Chris Paul is still the engine that makes the Thunder run. His points per game (17.2), field goal percentage (48.1%) and rebounds (5.0) are all up over last season during his final year with the Houston Rockets. His currently leads the team in assists (6.6) and steals (1.8).

The Spurs nearly went 2-0 against the Thunder this season, but fell apart in the fourth quarter as the Oklahoma City rallied for a narrow 109-103 victory. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan combined for 20-for-38 shooting, but head coach Gregg Popovich opting to have Bryn Forbes guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander allowed the Thunder to hit one timely shot after another.

The Spurs are in a bad position right now, being 4.5 games out of the eighth seed and having a tough back-to-back starting tonight. The Spurs need to do all they can to win both games if they want to head into the All-Star break with any kind of momentum.