The Denver Nuggets looked to be dead in the water, in danger of falling behind 0-2 in the first round of the NBA playoffs to the No. 7-seed San Antonio Spurs. But then Jamal Murray came to the rescue.

After an 0-for-8 start to the game, Murray absolutely caught fire in the fourth quarter, hitting bucket after bucket to lead his team to a much-needed 114-105 win in Game 2 on Tuesday night. Murray finished with 24 points, one of four Nuggets to score at least 20 points — with Gary Harris (23), Nikola Jokic (21) and Paul Millsap (20) joining him.

It sets up what should be an exciting Game 3 in San Antonio on Thursday. Here’s everything you need to know about the series between the Nuggets and Spurs.

No. 2 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs

How to watch Game 3

  • Date: Thursday, April 18
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location: AT&T Center — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV channel: NBATV
  • Online streaming: FuboTV
  • Odds: Will update when line is available

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TV listings

All games will air on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV during the postseason. Games on TNT and NBA TV can be streamed via fuboTV (Try it for free).

Playoff series schedule, results (series tied 1-1)

All times Eastern   

  • Game 1 (at DEN): Spurs 101, Nuggets 96 (Box Score)
  • Game 2 (at DEN): Nuggets 114, Spurs 105 (Box Score)  
  • Game 3 (at SA): Thursday, April 18, 9 p.m. — TV: NBA TV
  • Game 4 (at SA): Saturday, April 20, 5:30 p.m. — TV: TNT
  • Game 5 (at DEN): Tuesday, April 23, TBD — TV: TBD
  • Game 6* (at SA): Thursday, April 25, TBD — TV: TBD
  • Game 7* (at DEN): Saturday, April 27, TBD — TV: TBD

*If necessary

Odds and Analysis

Check Sportsline’s NBA pick sheet for all your daily odds.

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Storylines

Spurs: They may enter as the No. 7 seed, but it’s not as if they’re the clear-cut underdog. They won two of their four games vs. the Nuggets this season and went 32-9 at home. Furthermore, head coach Gregg Popovich will coach his 278th playoff game in Game 1 — Nuggets head coach Michael Malone will be coaching in his first postseason game.

Nuggets: Denver enters as the youngest team in the NBA playoffs — heck, it’s the Nuggets’ first appearance in the postseason since 2013 and they’ll be looking for their first playoff series victory since 2009. In other words, this No. 2 seed features a bunch of players — outside of Paul Millsap — that literally have no experience on the big stage.

Matchups to watch

1. Which star players will take over a game? There is no shortage of star power in this series with the Spurs featuring DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge while the Nuggets feature the likes of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. While all four players are stars in their own right, DeRozan and Aldridge have led teams to conference finals appearances in the past — in other words, they’ve taken over big games and proved their worth.

While Jokic and Murray have certainly accomplished a lot this season, both players — especially Jokic — have disappeared in big games against big teams such as the Golden State Warriors. The fact that the Nuggets lost nine of their 12 games vs. stiff competition such as the Warriors, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz this season provides a little doubt that their star players can take over when the team needs it most.

2. Benches: When you take a look at both teams, it’s clear that the Nuggets have more depth. Monte Morris and Malik Beasley are younger, fresher and better than the Spurs’ Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli. But the latter two have a lot more experience and a proven track record in the playoffs, with Mills having made 83 playoff appearances and Belinelli appearing in 58 of his own. Morris and Beasley have a combined zero playoff appearances.

Denver can also shift to the energetic Mason Plumlee (7.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this season) in relief of Jokic, who could prove to be instrumental when both teams insert their second units in.

3. Popovich vs. Malone: These two may not actually be taking the court, but the difference in head-coaching experience between the two is as vast as they get in the 2019 NBA playoffs. While Popovich has been coaching in the NBA postseason in every year since 1998, Malone makes his first appearance in the playoffs as a head coach.

Considering this is a seven-game series, Popovich’s past (and proven) history of adjusting on the fly could prove to be pivotal in what should be a close series.

However, Malone has fresher legs and better personnel to rely upon — the only detriment is his unit’s lack of playoff experience.

Original series prediction, pick

Nuggets in six: This is the most intriguing first-round series of the NBA playoffs. These two teams were so evenly matched during their regular-season matchups with two of the four games being dictated by a combined total of four points. Furthermore, when you combine the Nuggets’ dominance at home (34-7) with the Spurs’ own success on their home floor, this becomes a matter of who can steal the first road game in the series.

While the Nuggets enter as the most inexperienced bunch in the playoffs, the Spurs enter as a playoff-tested foe. Aldridge has been an annual NBA playoff performer for well over a decade, DeRozan has led Toronto Raptors squads deep into the playoffs over the years and the supporting cast featuring Mills and Belinelli have won titles with the Spurs.

With that said, I do believe talent will trump experience in this series. But don’t expect it to come easy for the Nuggets.

2019 NBA Playoff Bracket

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Graphic illustration by Michael Meredith (CBS Sports)

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