Denver Nuggets, NBA Playoffs, San Antonio Spurs

Mistakes plague Nuggets down the stretch of Game 1 loss to Spurs

The Nuggets had opportunities to protect their homecourt in Game 1 but couldn’t make shots down the stretch against the Spurs.

Neither team played the game they were hoping for but when the dust settled, the Spurs had a five-point lead and a Game 1 upset win over the Nuggets.

The Spurs leading scorers, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, shot 12-of-36 from the field but were picked up by fantastic performances by Bryn Forbes, Derrick White and Rudy Gay. The Nuggets couldn’t buy a 3-pointer and Jamal Murray was 8-of-24 with a pair of costly turnovers but Nikola Jokic put up a triple-double and Gary Harris played as well as he has in a while.

Both teams have things to work on and this looks like it could be one of the most competitive first-round series.

San Antonio Spurs

101

Denver Nuggets

96

Takeaways

Nikola Jokic is just fine. The Nuggets center will almost certainly take some flak for his low shot and point totals in this game. Some on Twitter were already crowing about his unwillingness to “take the game” over. Of course, this overlooks the fact that Jokic had a triple-double. That, again and again, his vision and gravity were opening shots for his teammates. The shots just weren’t falling — Denver finished the game 6-of-28 on 3-pointers. Things certainly would have gone differently if Jokic could have put up 30 points but he doesn’t need to do that for Denver to be at their best.

You should start watching Derrick White. If this was your first introduction to White, you’ve been missing a lot this season. Injuries robbed him of a good portion of his rookie season and his college career — which started at a Division II school and finished at the University of Colorado — have kept him below the radar. These playoffs could be his coming out party for a national audience. In Game 1, we got to see everything that makes White special — the shooting, the finishing, the playmaking and vision, the effort and attention to detail on defense. When Dejounte Murray returns from injury next season the Spurs could have one of the best young backcourt combinations in the entire lea

Next: Curry and the Warriors light up the Clippers in Game 1 win

It’s a make-or-miss league. The final turnover by Jamal Murray is going to be the one that stings the Nuggets the most but if even one of those 22 missed 3-pointers goes down, the end of that game plays out differently. The wide-open mid-range jumper Murray got with 9.4 seconds left and a chance to give his team the lead, that’s a shot he hits about 43.2 percent of the time this season. Tonight it didn’t go down. If the Nuggets can take anything positive away from this game it’s that the strategy wasn’t broken, things just didn’t break their way.

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