National Basketball Association
Spurs-Nuggets Preview
National Basketball Association

Spurs-Nuggets Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 12:37 p.m. ET

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will rest some key players Friday night with his team locked into the Western Conference's No. 2 seed.

The Spurs still figure to be favored to post their 11th straight win over the Denver Nuggets, who are winless halfway through their four-game homestand.

San Antonio (65-13) only had faint hopes of finishing atop the conference, and those ended Thursday with a 112-101 loss at Golden State, which clinched the league's best record. Kawhi Leonard scored 23, but no other Spurs player had more than 11.

''It took 70 wins to wrap up the one seed, which tells you all you need to know about that team in the other locker room,'' Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the Spurs after wrapping up home court throughout the playoffs as well.


Now the only thing on the line for San Antonio this season is to become the first team to finish 41-0 at home, with games left against the Warriors and Oklahoma City.

Before that, San Antonio will complete this two-game trip and try to improve to 15-1 in the second half of back-to-back games. Popovich said before Thursday's contest that he will rest players Friday, but didn't say who.

Once candidate could be LaMarcus Aldridge, who left Thursday late in the first quarter with a dislocated right pinky finger and later returned. The injury doesn't appear serious.

''It freaked me out,'' Aldridge said. ''I had never had it happen to me before. I looked down and it was going the other direction. It definitely caught me off guard. They popped it in, I went back in real quick, and as soon as I touched the ball it went right back out. It didn't feel right the whole night.''

Manu Ginobili has rested the Spurs' last seven games in the second of a back-to-back. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have sat out the last two.

The Spurs won their first 14 in the second game of a back-to-back before a 111-92 road loss to the Thunder on March 26 in which Aldridge and Leonard were rested.

Leonard is averaging 21.7 points on 55.3 percent shooting in three games against Denver (32-47) this season. The Nuggets haven't won in this series since April 10, 2013 - when the Spurs rested Parker and Ginobili.

Denver has lost three straight, falling to 0-2 on this homestand with Tuesday's 124-102 loss to Oklahoma City. The Nuggets trailed by two after one quarter before being outscored by 28 over the next two.

"We had flashes where we looked like we could compete with them," coach Mike Malone said. "Then it shows how far we are away."

Gary Harris scored 17 and rookie Emmanuel Mudiay added 15. Mudiay is shooting 35.5 percent for the league's second-worst mark, ahead of only the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant.

"We're playing with a bunch of young, young players," Malone said. "One day we aspire to be like the Thunder, like the Spurs, like the Warriors, teams that can win 60 games and do it with ease almost."

Harris is averaging 17.3 points on 56.3 percent shooting in his last three games.

Forward Darrell Arthur is expected to miss a third straight game.


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