Denver at San Antonio
Free NBA Pick: Spurs ATS
Best Line Offered: Bovada
The Spurs were one quarter away from going up 2-0 in the series against the Nuggets by winning the first two games on the road, but the Spurs headed home for Game 3 on Thursday night feeling like they let a bigger opportunity slip away against the second-seeded Nuggets. For that, they can thank enigmatic Denver point guard Jamal Murray, who has emerged as the most important player in this first-round Western Conference series, a series that nearly became a San Antonio walk-over but now seems destined to go the distance.
Murray scored 24 points Tuesday and was the difference-maker as Denver roared back from a 19-point, third-quarter deficit to even the series with a 114-105 win. Murray struggled at the end of Game 1, missing a key shot and then committing a turnover in the final minute of a 101-96 San Antonio win on Saturday. He began Game 2 by missing all eight shots in the first half, but caught fire — and then some — in the fourth quarter as he went 8 of 9 from the floor and scored 21 points.
The Spurs managed just 23 points as a team in that pivotal period and headed home to regroup in the Alamo City, where they were 32-9 this season. Murray’s eight baskets in the fourth quarter Tuesday matched the number of shots he made in the previous seven quarters in the series combined. Denver coach Michael Malone said after the win that he saw Murray playing the correct way even when he was struggling.
The Spurs led Tuesday’s game from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the fourth, and often by double digits. DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 24, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Murray’s late heroics. Look for San Antonio to defend their home courtin which they were 24-17 ATS during the regular season and regain control of the series.