DENVER – The Nuggets-Spurs playoff series is the most competitive in these 2019 NBA playoffs. Every time one team wins, the other responds and now the series is tied 2-2 heading into pivotal Game 5.
"We're feeling good," Spurs guard Derrick White said. "It's going to be a tough game here and we are looking forward to it."
Denver comes back home with momentum after picking up a rare win in San Antonio in Game 4. They made the right adjustments and now it's time see how the Spurs respond.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is considered a master at making the right adjustments. In fact, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone recently compared Pop to the late chess savant - Bobby Fischer. Popovich laughed that comment off when asked about it after morning shootaround and said it's all about playing good basketball.
"It all comes down to basics. Sure, each team makes, I like to say tweaks, you can't change who you are by this time of the season. The basics of winning and losing still apply. You got to make shots if you're going to win. Any adjustment in the world means nothing if the basics aren't taken care of, so more attention should be paid to that, than some little tweak here or there," Popovich said.
In Game 4, Denver made a great tweak by starting Torrey Craig instead of Will Barton. The move allowed Craig, a superior defender, to slow down DeMar DeRozan and allowed Denver's other top perimeter defender Gary Harris to stop Derrick White.
White, who scored a career-high 36 points in Game 3, was held to eight points. Every time White touched the ball, Harris was there to harass him.
"Yeah, you definitely learn something each time you're out there," White said. "I mean consistency is a big thing. I just got to keep working on it and keep learning."
Looking to regain the upper hand in this series, Pop and the Spurs need someone other than a star player to have a big night.
"In the playoffs people step up. It happens all the time in every single series of every single year, "Popovich said. "Mr. Craig did a helluva job last game. Making his threes, playing great defense. You need people to step up who might not be your major players, but people who step up, become that and very important in winning."
The winner of Game 5, when tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven series, goes on to win the series 82.3% of the time. Now we know why it's called pivotal Game 5.
Game 5 is Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center. The start time is 8:30 p.m. CDT.