Even if Denver had the match point ten seconds from the end, San Antonio wins logically (101-96) in this first round. Derrick White was outstanding on both sides of the pitch, while LaMarcus Aldridge made up for his clumsiness with a big defense.
After a good minute of observation, Nikola Jokic opens the door to a muscular drive in an incredible atmosphere. We wondered if the young Bryn Forbes and Derrick White were going to endure the pressure, but they hit the mark, and the match started (6-6). In San Antonio, the tactics are clear: leave Nikola Jokic off as creator. It is a choice and the Serb multiplies the assists. Like that for Paul Millsap in the corner to give four points ahead (17-13).
In San Antonio, we dismiss the game to better take the intervals, and Marco Belinelli rushes into the breach (17-17). We find the Italian in the corner. A feint to send his defender into the public, and he crashes the 3-point to give the Spurs (22-19) the advantage. San Antonio does in the very clean with few missed shoots, few lost balls, and when Rudy Gay misses his 3-pointers, LaMarcus Aldridge pulls off the offensive rebound to put in. After 12 minutes, the Spurs are in front (25-20).
The Spurs in demonstration
The accuracy of the Spurs is impressive. The systems are executed perfectly, and on one touch, DeRozan gives seven points ahead (29-22). In Denver, Paul Millsap takes the game on his own. He dribbles, provokes Jakob Poeltl, but it lacks movements and passes. San Antonio still masters his subject with this devil of White to answer a 3-point Malik Beasley (35-29). Bryn Forbes imitates him with a marvel of fadeaway and Denver is on the verge of breaking (41-31). Everything is simple Spurs side, and each attacker has several possibilities in attack. It's the opposite in Denver where Jokic loupe even simple things.
The Spurs master the tempo attack, the defense reads perfectly the game of Nuggets, and Rudy Gay gives 12 points ahead of a drive almost easy (47-35). It is finally the Will Wisp will bring a spark.
Jokic is still off. The Serb does not even look at the circle, and it is his teammate who attacks the defense (47-41). But the Spurs do not panic, and they unroll their basketball. It's Gay, before the break, who punishes the Nuggets with two 3-points. The first on a simple pick-and-roll, and the second in the corner. San Antonio took a 10-point lead (55-45). On a last solo drive Jamal Murray, the Nuggets join the break with eight points behind (59-51).
Jokic double triple
Returning from the locker room, Barton creates a lot of problems for the Spurs, but White gratifies us squarely the most beautiful dunk of this first day with a poster on Paul Millsap. With the fault (64-59)! Despite this dunk, the quality of the game is lower. Both teams are 5 out of 25 shots to start this half (66-59). It is finally Aldridge that gives back to the Spurs. First on an offensive rebound in the middle of a forest of arms, then on a basket at 6 meters on a pick-and-pop that leaves Jokic two meters (70-61). Let's also admit that the Spurs have a bit of luck as on this basket of Gay who bounces three times on the circle before returning.
Behind, Beasley takes himself for White and he climbs on Davis Bertans! His dunk is missed because of Latvian foul but the room catches fire (72-66). On a last basket of Plumlee, Denver returned to four points (72-68). The Forbes-White tandem has disappeared from circulation, while Jokic is two points behind the triple doubles!
The Denver defense has clearly raised the level. There are no more easy baskets for San Antonio, and it is to the shots that DeRozan gives a little air (75-68). Denver misses several opportunities to get closer to a possession, and it is Poeltl who sanctions to zero degrees (81-75). It's basketball playoffs with a lot of contacts and now a lot of throws. The Nuggets leave on the way … and it is finally Torrey Craig who hurts the Spurs with two 3-point successes (83-80). Behind, on a lay up 30 centimeters from the circle, Jokic records his first triple double in the playoffs (88-84). Denver plays "big" and the Spurs stay off, unable to get close to the circle.
Murray is in the worst moment
The defenses are in place, and each basket is a feat, like that of DeRozan at the post (90-87), or this 3-point Bertans (93-87). Whenever Denver picks up the score, the Spurs cool the room, and it's Patty Mills's turn to chill on a step back (95-89). But behind, these are the first meatballs of Spurs: Rudy Gay takes a defensive rebound, but Murray tears it from his hands and scores with the fault. Then DeRozan loses a ball (95-92). The Nuggets are more aggressive towards the circle, and Harris brings closer the Nuggets on shots. Then Murray, near the corner, blew the room by bringing Denver to -1 (97-96). There are 90 seconds left to play …
The Nuggets have the ball to go past but Murray shifts an airball, then Jokic loses a ball under the circle. Opposite, White is also in his airball, and DeRozan magnifying a basket at 4-5 meters. Denver rebound. There are 14 seconds left to play.
Will the Nuggets make the holdup? Jamal Murray is alone at 5 meters, and he misses! Aldridge takes the rebound, puts his shots (99-96). Denver still has eight seconds to tie but Murray, again, loses a ball in midfield. It is White who finishes the job on the line, and San Antonio wins 101-96 to take advantage of the field.