Spurs vs. Nuggets preview: Shorthanded contenders tip off Wednesday

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Both without key players, the Spurs and Nuggets meet Wednesday night for a matchup of undermanned contenders.

The San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets have two of the strongest records in the entire NBA. From that perspective, few teams are in stronger positions, respectively, entering the final week of the regular season.

Take a look at the injury reports, however, and those pictures become a bit less rosy. Both teams are banged up and trying to patch things back together going into Wednesday night's game at the Pepsi Center.

Even though both the Spurs and Nuggets have over 50 wins, neither club has settled down for the rest of the season quite yet. San Antonio is still battling with OKC for the top seed in the conference, while Denver is in the midst of a tight race for home-court advantage.

Neither team is competing at full strength, though.

For a Nuggets team that's scorched opponents in recent months with impressive depth, that aspect of the roster's construction is being tested. Without leading scorers Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets have continued their winning ways, but they haven't played a team of San Antonio's caliber lately.

The last time these two teams played, the Spurs squeaked out a 100-99 win at home March 27.

San Antonio has some injuries of its own, and they can't simply be attributed to Gregg Popovich working some late-season roster magic. Guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili continue to deal with ongoing issues, plus big man Boris Diaw is sidelined, as well. Parker is a game-time decision for the game.

As strong as Popovich's system is, running it consistently against quality teams without Parker and Ginobili has been a challenge. The team has gone .500 since March 24, losing to the kinds of teams it will need to beat in the postseason -- Miami, Houston, Memphis and OKC.

Seeing those results, it's clear the Spurs need their backcourt intact to really make some noise in the playoffs. And with fans already wondering just how valuable that top seed would even be, resting key players rather than pushing for that top spot would seem to be a reasonable option, as Pounding the Rock, SB Nation's Spurs blog, notes.

Still, with the likes of Tim Duncan, Kenneth Faried and other on the court, this will still be a key game worth watching.

Wednesday's game begins at 10:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.

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