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San Antonio Spurs

NBA Playoffs 2019: Four Takeaways from the San Antonio Spurs' thrilling win over the Denver Nuggets

DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan (Getty Images)

These playoffs are the Denver Nuggets' first since 2013, whereas, it's the 22nd consecutive appearance in the postseason for the San Antonio Spurs.

On a day of upsets, that experience helped the seventh-seeded Spurs steal the home court advantage from the young second-seeded Nuggets.

Here's four takeaways from today's game:

Nuggets' poor shooting proves costly

The Denver Nuggets just couldn't get anything to fall against the Spurs, going 6-of-28 from the three-point line in Game 1.

Their 21.4% from three was their fourth-worst mark this season, with Jokic (0-of-3), Jamal Murray (0-of-6), Gary Harris (1-of-3), Paul Millsap (1-of-5) and Will Barton (1-of-5) all struggling from range.

The Spurs packed the paint and forced the Nuggets into launching from deep, and through three quarters they were just 3-of-21 from beyond the arc and in a close game, the Nuggets left plenty of points at the free throw line as well, converting 16-of-24.

"We had a lot of wide open shots that didn't fall for us tonight and hopefully they'll fall on Tuesday night," coach Mike Malone said post-game.

While the young Nuggets pale in comparison to the Spurs when it comes to playoff experience, Malone added that nerves didn't have anything to do with their performance, rather that it was just an off night.

"I didn't think it was nerves, I didn't sense that, you know I mean we missed shots," Malone added.

"I didn't think we struggled to make shots because of nerves, I think we struggled to make shots because we struggled to make shots. "I think after the first couple of minutes we settled in and we played our game."

Spurs play to their strengths

During the 82-game regular season, the Spurs were in the top two on all shooting metrics - 47.8% from the field (2nd), 39.2% from beyond the arc (1st), and 81.9% from the free-throw line (1st).

Making smart shooting choices, the Spurs did more of the same in Game 1, outshooting the young Nuggets.

The San Antonio franchise was ranked 22nd in pace during the regular season, averaging just 10.4 fastbreak points per game (28th). In Game 1, they ensured the contest was played to their tempo with both teams only combining for two fastbreak points.

The Spurs will take plenty of confidence from their Game 1 victory on a night where their two best players struggled to fire.

LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan combined to score just 33 points on just 12-of-36 shooting from the field, but they had plenty of help from their teammates, with Derrick White (16 points), Bryn Forbes (15) and Rudy Gay (14) all chipping in.

Jokic notches triple-double in first playoff game

In his first career playoff game, Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double of 10 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.

It was a slow start for the Serbian as the San Antonio Spurs swarmed him on the defensive end, taking just three shots in the first half, finishing with four first-half points. He had just nine field goal attempts for the game.

Despite the extra attention, Jokic was still able to impact the game without scoring, facilitating the Nuggets' offence from the elbow, dishing out nine assists in the first half.

Jokic is only the fourth player in NBA history to record a triple-double in his first playoff game, joning LeBron James Magic Johnson and Johnny McCarthy.

The big man also became the first Denver Nuggets player since Fat Lever in 1989 to record a triple-double in the playoffs.

While the stat-line is impressive, the Nuggets will need Jokic to be more aggressive looking for his own shot as the series wears on.

Gregg Popovich becomes the winningest coach ever

The Game 1 victory was Gregg Popovich's 1413th win [regular season and playoffs combined], the most by any coach in NBA history.

He passed Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkins, who had 1412 wins to his name, while another Hall of Famer Don Nelson is at 3rd with 1410 wins.

Of Pop's 1413 wins, 1245 (3rd most) have come in 1820 regular season games (68.4%, ) while the remaining 168 (3rd most) have come in 278 playoff games (60.4%).

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