Photo: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets are back in action Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs in the teams first game since the All-Star break.
Where: Denver, CO – Pepsi Center
When: 7 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment – Altitude Sports Radio AM 950
In the Nuggets first game action in over a week, the team will look to build off a historic performance against the Milwaukee Bucks just a week ago. The game against the Bucks saw Nikola Jokic record the fastest triple-double in NBA history and also saw the Nuggets tie a franchise record with 24 three-pointers. The victory over the Bucks gave the Nuggets their third straight win and their sixth victory in their last seven games.
The Nuggets open the second half of the season with a record of 32-26 and currently sit at sixth place in the Western Conference. The West playoff race is tighter than ever as the Nuggets are just two and half games back of third place in the conference, but are also just one game back of falling out of the top eight. The team who currently sits at that third spot in the conference is the San Antonio Spurs with a record of 35-24. The Nuggets just recently beat the Spurs last week in a game at Pepsi Center by a score of 117-109 and are looking to replicate that performance on Friday night.
The Spurs got some good news on the injury front yesterday as one of the teams biggest free agent pick ups, Rudy Gay, is expected to return after missing the past month with a right heel injury. Gay comes into the game averaging 11.5 points per game and is shooting 33 percent from behind the three-point line so far this season. As the Spurs got good news, they also got bad news as it’s expected that Kawhi Leonard will miss the rest of the season with a quad injury.
Breaking: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says that he would be “surprised” if Kawhi Leonard returns at any point this season. pic.twitter.com/WWXZOpSyM8
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2018
Another name the Nuggets will have to look out for is six time all-star LaMarcus Aldridge. The 2018 all-star has killed the Nuggets so far this season and is averaging 22.5 points per game in the two games he’s played against the Nuggets so far this season. Aldridge missed the two teams last match up and that allowed Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic to record a triple-double on the Spurs depleted front court. With Aldridge back for the Spurs, he definitely gives the team an added scoring punch and a guy whose hurt the Nuggets a few times already this season.
Friday’s game against the Spurs marks the Nuggets start in their quest to make it back to the postseason for the first time in four years. A victory on Friday night would be big for the Nuggets not only to keep pace in the West, but to potentially tie the Spurs in the tiebreaker category. With the West being as tight as it as, as many tiebreakers that the Nuggets can gain on other teams could prove pivotal come playoff time in April.
The Nuggets will get some much needed help on the defensive end of the floor as Mason Plumlee is set to return against the Spurs after missing the past eight games with a calf strain.
Mason Plumlee (calf), meanwhile, is expected to be available vs. the Spurs on Friday.
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) February 22, 2018
Plumlee leads the Nuggets in blocks per game at 1.2 and has been a consistent presence for the Nuggets on the defensive end of the floor all season. The Nuggets also got some good news yesterday as Paul Millsap returned to practice and was a full participant, but don’t expect him back for a couple more weeks.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone wouldn’t offer a specific target date for Paul Millsap’s return today. He did say “it could be two weeks, it could be four weeks” and they’ll know more after another doctors appointment next week.
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) February 22, 2018
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage of the Nuggets and Spurs.