Solid D, Struggling O

The San Antonio Spurs own the best defense in the Western Conference, but injuries to some of their key players have caused their play on the other end of the court to be less consistent.

The Spurs will try to build on their highest scoring game in more than a month on Thursday when they visit the Denver Nuggets.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Denver –1.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 191 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio +1.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

San Antonio (21-8) is yielding just 91.9 points per game, fewer than any other team in the West, and is in a virtual tie for the best record in the conference with Phoenix. However, the Spurs have dropped five of their last nine games, averaging just 86.8 points in those defeats.

Tim Duncan, who is averaging 18.3 points and a team-high 10.2 rebounds, missed the first two of those defeats with a sore right knee and sprained right ankle. Tony Parker, who leads the team with 20.3 points per game, missed four games during the stretch with a sprained left ankle, and top reserve Manu Ginobili, who averages 19.2 points, has missed the last three games with a sprained left index finger.

Even without Ginobili, however, the Spurs beat Memphis 111-87 on Sunday in their highest scoring game since a 116-101 win at Seattle on Nov. 25.

"Our defense besides the first quarter was really good. First quarter was terrible," Parker said. "When you play good defense, it creates easy offense, you create fast-break transition and wide-open 3s."

Parker and Duncan each had 24 points, and Duncan chipped in 17 rebounds. Parker has averaged 21.3 points and six assists in four games since returning, and Duncan has averaged 20.3 points and 13.4 rebounds in seven games since his return.

On Sunday, the Spurs trailed 32-22 after the first quarter, when they allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 75 percent. However, they tightened up their defense to breeze to their third win in four games.

"We're a good basketball team when we play defense, and then we back it up with rebounding then everything flows from that," coach Gregg Popovich said. "We did that tonight after the first quarter and got it done."

Michael Finley chipped in a season-high 22 points, reaching double figures for the eighth straight game.

"Every shot I take, I hope it goes in," Finley said. "Tonight it was just going in a lot more for me and I think I just had a good rhythm offensively."

The Spurs beat the Nuggets (18-12) in five games in the first round of last season's playoffs and won 102-91 at home in the first meeting between the teams this season on Dec. 15. Parker, who leads the Spurs with 20.3 points per game, missed that game with a sprained left ankle.

The Nuggets have scored in triple digits in all but two of their wins - and reached 99 points in those two exceptions - while being limited to double figures in all but four of their defeats.

Denver ended a three-game winning streak on Sunday, falling 105-95 at home to Golden State in the finale of a home-and-home set with the Warriors.

Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, which shot just 35 percent two days after winning 124-120 at Golden State. Allen Iverson, however, managed only 13 points on 2-for-12 shooting after scoring 39 on the road.

"Every time I tried to penetrate they would bring a lot of people to me to make me give up the ball," Iverson said. "I just missed a couple of shots and struggled the whole night."

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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