Spurs guard Bryn Forbes takes matchup with Gary Harris, Nuggets “personally”

Every newspaper …

Backcourt advantage: Nuggets.

Every tweet …

Backcourt advantage: Nuggets.

Every blog …

Backcourt advantage: Nuggets.

“I mean, obviously, I’m going to take it personally,” San Antonio guard Bryn Forbes said. “I like to compete, so I don’t like it when people say things like that.”

Backcourt grudge advantage: Spurs.

“I don’t want to get into that,” said Forbes, who dropped 15 points Saturday night on Denver, the Spurs’ dance partners Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center in Game 2 of their best-of-seven set. “But yeah, I take it personally.”

For Forbes, a third-year guard out of Michigan State, drawing the Nuggets makes it a smidge more personal than the usual first-round playoff fracas. Denver wing guard Gary Harris — one of the few Nuggets for whom the postseason didn’t look like too big a stage after a 20-point night in Game 1 — is an old pal, a longtime workout-and-sparring partner.

“We had talked quite a bit the last week of the season about Gary Harris finding his rhythm, finding his confidence, attacking the basket, shooting it with confidence,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That carried into (Game 1). I thought Gary’s playoff debut was amazing: 20 points, gets to the foul line five times, and I thought his defense on (Spurs guard) DeMar DeRozan was as good as you can play him.

“Nikola (Jokic) and Gary playing with each other, and off of each other, was a big part of what we’ve done the last couple years. Moving forward, hopefully (he) can continue to play at that high level, and hopefully he and Nikola can space the floor, read each other and play off each other just as well as they did in Game 1.”

Harris and Forbes played for the Spartans under iconic coach Tom Izzo, although not at the same time: A few months after the Nuggets wing declared for the NBA draft following a stellar sophomore year with the Spartans in 2013-14, Forbes transferred into East Lansing from Cleveland State for the 2014-15 season.

“It’s good for them to go at it,” noted Nuggets guard Monte Morris, who goes back almost a decade himself with Forbes — the Spurs guard played high school ball in Lansing, Mich., about the same time that the Denver super-sub was prepping at Flint (Mich.) Beecher. “They know each other’s games. They play a lot of pickup together. To watch them go at it, it’s good to watch.”

Watch for the jabs.

Watch for the inside jokes.

Watch for buttons being pushed.

Watch for the I’ll-show-you elevated moments, too: In five meetings with the Nuggets this season, the 6-foot-3 Forbes has proven to be one of the most consistent — and underrated — thorns in Denver’s collective side, averaging 11.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 treys while connecting from beyond the arc at a blistering 10-for-20 (.500) clip.

The 6-4 Harris, meanwhile, has averaged 13 points, 3.0 boards and 1.3 treys in three tilts against the Spurs in 2018-19. Harris’ 20-point line in Game 1 was his first scoring night of at least 20 points since the former Spartan had dropped 27 in Portland back on Nov. 30.

“He’s a guy that doesn’t complain at all,” Morris said of Harris, who missed 25 games during the regular season with a spate of lower-body injuries. “He just comes in and works his tail off. He doesn’t complain about shots.

“Even when he was going through his slump, he just stayed at it and just said, ‘Man (there are) going to be better days, I know it’s coming, I can’t keep missing.’ He was exactly right and had a heck of a Game 1.”

Nothing like a familiar face to get the blood pumping — and the shots dropping. To make it, you know, personal.

“(They) both went to Michigan State, both played with each other a lot,” Morris said, “so they talk a lot of trash on the court.”

Smack advantage: TBD.

“We talk a little bit out there,” Forbes revealed with a grin. “It’s cool. Not a lot of people get to do that. I’m blessed. I think we’re both blessed.”


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