The NBA Playoffs officially opened on Saturday (Apr. 13), with a number of upsets in just the first games of series. Among the upset winners were the San Antonio Spurs, thanks to a balanced overall effort from their players including DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
According to an ESPN report, DeRozan led the effort as he scored 18 points in 39 minutes. The Spurs’ guard also collected 12 rebounds and dished out six assists. Teammate LaMarcus Aldridge led all players with eight rebounds to go with his 15 points. The Spurs had other double-digit scorers including Bryn Forbes with 15 points and Rudy Gay with 14 off the bench.
Derrick White had a key steal late in the game to help seal the Game 1 victory for his squad. He finished with 16 points, five assists, three rebounds, and that steal. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich called White’s performance in Game 1, “spectacular,” based on having to step into the position and learn how things work with new players. White not only had the key steal but clutch free throws to clinch the win.
On the other side of things, NBA All-Star Nikola Jokic made history. The Nuggets’ big man became the fourth NBA player in the league’s history to record a triple-double in a playoff debut. The previous player to accomplish that was LeBron James back in 2006. Jokic finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds, and 14 assists, but said “To be honest, nothing,” when asked how achieving that stat line felt.
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said the Spurs effectively using double teams on Jokic. Malone said San Antonio “trapped him every time” in the paint, which led to his poor shooting performance.
Jokic was just 4-for-9 in the game and 0-for-3 from long range. His teammate Gary Harris led all scorers with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Will Barton finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Denver Nuggets came into this game as the West’s No. 2 seed behind the Golden State Warriors, but San Antonio came in with the experience of head coach Gregg Popovich. However, he believed his own big man was limited just like Jokic. Popovich commented regarding Jokic and Aldridge, “they are both great players and they are going to continue to get a lot of attention throughout the series.”
This was just Game 1 of the Western Conference playoff series involving the two squads. They’ll meet again on Tuesday (Apr. 16) with a game to be televised on NBA TV. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. local time or 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday evening.