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SportNBA playoffs 2019: Predictions, picks for Nuggets vs. Spurs first-round series

01:25  12 april  2019
01:25  12 april  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

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The official home of the 2019 NBA Playoffs : Matchups, schedules, stats, news, features, video highlights and playoff bracket. Home Home. 2019 Playoff Picture Playoff Picture.

The 2019 NBA playoffs will be a postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association 's 2018–19 season. All rounds are a best-of-seven series ; the first team to four wins advances to the next round . Denver Nuggets . Previous playoffs series . TBD leads 0–0 in all-time playoff series .

NBA playoffs 2019: Predictions, picks for Nuggets vs. Spurs first-round series © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

The Nuggets have been out of the first round of the playoffs just once since 1994, but after a 54-win season, the team has high expectations. The issue, though, is that Denver is virtually devoid of postseason experience.

Its three top scorers — Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris — are all under 24 years old and will be making their postseason debuts. They’ll be facing the Spurs, anchored by LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, who have 116 games of postseason experience between them.

There’s a bit of an experience gap on the bench, too, where Denver’s Mike Malone will make his postseason coaching debut against Gregg Popovich, who will be in the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive year, with a record of 167-110.

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Nuggets vs. Spurs: Schedule, breakdown, prediction

Date Matchup Time (TV channel)
April 13 Game 1 at Denver 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
April 16 Game 2 at Denver 9 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
April 18 Game 3 at San Antonio 9 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
April 20 Game 4 at San Antonio 5:30 p.m. ET (TNT/fuboTV)
*April 23 Game 5 at Denver TBD
*April 25 Game 6 at San Antonio TBD
*April 27 Game 7 at Denver TBD (TNT)

(*if necessary)

The key player

Paul Millsap had his lowest scoring average in a decade this season (12.6 points), but he played well in the second half of the year and was signed by Denver specifically for playoff time.

This will be Millsap’s 10th postseason, and he has 87 playoff games under his belt. He will be expected to be a calming figure when adversity strikes, but he’ll also have to contend with Aldridge, who can score on Jokic with ease. Against Millsap — in only two games — Aldridge shot only 40 percent from the field and scored nine points in 38 possessions.

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Nuggets playoff schedule released for… Nuggets playoff schedule released for first - round series against Spurs . Share this Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets claps after the fourth quarter of the Nuggets ’ 99-95 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 .

All first - round playoff matchups are now locked in, with games beginning on Saturday.

The big number

10.6. Denver was 34-7 at home this year, the best record in the league on their own court. They ranked third offensively (116.0) and fifth defensively (105.4) when playing in Denver, a 10.6 net rating that was second-best in the league.

That flips dramatically when the Nuggets hit the road — they’re 17th in defense (110.6) and 16th in offense (108.1). That’s a minus-2.5 net rating, 14th in the league. The Nuggets will open with two games at home, and it’s critical for the team to take pressure off itself by winning both.

Nuggets vs. Spurs prediction

The Nuggets are a juggernaut at home, and they’ve got home-court advantage. It’s not hard to imagine an upset in this one, but the Nuggets have an advantage in size and talent. Look for them to win a skin-of-the-teeth series.

Nuggets over Spurs, 4-3

NBA playoffs 2019: Spurs' DeMar DeRozan explains why he threw ball at referee.
With the Spurs down 110-92, DeRozan was called for a charge on Nuggets guard Gary Harris after driving to the hoop. DeRozan immediately threw the ball toward Foster, resulting in two technical fouls and an ejection. It's also possible DeRozan could receive punishment from the league for his actions. DeRozan finished the night with 19 points, five assists and five rebounds. The Spurs' loss evened the series 2-2 after San Antonio won Games 1 and 3 of the opening round. Coach Gregg Popovich expressed displeasure with the way San Antonio played, calling his team's performance "poor.

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