DENVER - After shocking the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in Game 1 of their best-of-seven playoff series, the San Antonio Spurs will try to take an unexpected 2-0 series lead tonight.
The Spurs enter Game 2 as 7-point underdogs, and know the Nuggets will fire out of the gate like a cannon.
"I expect them to come out with some fight, with a lot of energy and a lot of passion," Spurs guard Bryn Forbes said. "But, if we match it, I think we'll get a good outcome."
The biggest obstacle for the Spurs will be to weather the Nuggets' early storm. They did a great job of that Saturday night in Game 1, and will really need to be ready tonight, with the Nuggets desperate to leave Denver tied at 1-1, instead of being down 0-2.
"Denver will come out very aggressive, very physical, with a whole lot of confidence, and obviously, something to prove," Spurs guard Patty Mills said. "We obviously need to be ready, and need to improve on what things we need to work on from the last game."
One way the Spurs can counter the Nuggets is by controlling the pace, much as they did in the first game. Denver had no fast break points, because the Spurs' transition defense was solid. They didn't allow the Nuggets to push the ball and play up-tempo.
"Control the pace is very important, being able to control the pace of the game, looking after the ball and controlling how well we play on defense."
On the flip side, the Nuggets want to get out and run. They want to force the action and not let the Spurs dictate the action," Mills said.
"Don't let their defense set up. Don't let them get together in their system," Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic said after the morning shootaround. "So, pushing the ball, pushing the pace, I think we can make some confusion in their defense."
Also in Game 1, the Spurs did a great job limiting Jokic's touches and points. They double-teamed him, forcing Jokic to pass the ball. He still logged a triple-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. Jokic wants to score more points, but also wants to keep steady with the Nuggets' game plan.
"I'm fine with passing the ball to the open guy if he's wide open," Jokic said. I don't have a problem passing the ball. If I force it, maybe it will be a bad shot, so I'm just going to pass it and that's how we are supposed to play."
Game 2 is tonight at the Pepsi Center. The start time is 8 p.m. CDT.
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