How the Denver Nuggets match up with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Playoffs
The Denver Post
Short of a No. 1 seed, the final day of the regular season couldn’t have set the Western Conference seeding up any kinder for the Denver Nuggets, who — thanks to a 15-0 run to close out a wild 99-95 home win over Minnesota in the regular-season finale — wound up on the opposite side of the brackets from two veteran squads, Golden State (the 1 seed) and Houston (the 4), that have been absolute thorns in a young roster’s sides. And away from a regional rival in Utah (the 5) that’s had Denver’s number since New Year’s Day.
The second-seeded Nuggets (54-28), who open their first NBA playoff berth in six years with a seven-game series against San Antonio (48-34) late Saturday night, dropped nine of 12 to the Warriors, Rockets and Jazz during the regular season — and all three will have the chance to beat each other up before they would potentially cross Denver’s postseason path.
Still, long-view mojo won’t mean much if the Nuggets, who are bringing the youngest roster to the NBA’s postseason party, can’t navigate past venerated coach Gregg Popovich and the seventh-seeded Spurs first.
Both teams were so superb at home — the Nuggets had an NBA-best 34-7 home court mark, while the Spurs were 32-9 in their backyard — that the onus is going to fall on whomever can steal a tilt on the other guy’s hostile home floor. San Antonio was 0-2 at the Pepsi Center during the regular season and has dropped five of its last six in the Mile High City over the last four years.
Recent history is kinder to Denver than a comparison of postseason scorecards. It’ll be the first playoff meeting between the Nuggets and San Antonio since 2007, when the Spurs took a first-round series, 4-1. Denver has met San Antonio six times in the NBA Playoffs, and the Nuggets have snatched only one series win: A 3-2 victory in the first round of the 1985 playoffs. Which means only one player on coach Michael Malone’s roster, 34-year-old power forward Paul Millsap, was alive the last time a Denver squad eliminated the Spurs from the postseason.
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