Nuggets vs. Pistons preview: Reunion tour continues against Chauncey Billups, Pistons

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets get set to face their old buddy Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons after a forgettable affair in the Big Apple last night.

Game 49: 2013-14 NBA Season
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Detroit Pistons (1997 - 2001)

24-24 (10-13 on road)
Series 0-0
20-29 (10-15 at home)
February 8th, 2014
The Palace of Auburn Hills - Auburn Hills, MI
5:30 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Ty Lawson PG Brandon Jennings
Randy Foye SG Kyle Singler
Wilson Chandler SF Josh Smith
Kenneth Faried PF Greg Monroe
J.J. Hickson C Andre Drummond
Notes
Denver Stiffs Blogs Detroit Bad Boys
JaVale McGee (leg fracture) is out, and Danilo Gallinari (ACL) and Nate Robinson(ACL) are out for the season. Injuries Josh Harrellson (knee) is out.
The Nuggets 12 assists last night were 10 below their average. They also had 23 turnovers that led to 27 points. Yeesh. Stat The Detroit Pistons are the worst three-point shooting team in the league at 30.6 percent. Josh Smith is shooting 23% from deep yet is second on the team with 3.5 attempts per game.

Well, at least the Denver Nuggets don't have much time to dwell on that loss. After what was easily their worst performance of the season, the Nuggets travel to Detroit to face a Pistons team that just put a hurting on the Brooklyn Nets 111-95 in the Palace at Auburn Hills last night. Brandon Jennings led the way with 26 points and nine assists (also eight turnovers), and Andre Drummond had himself a beastly night with 16 points and 22 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets continued the recent tradition of Denver teams imploding in New York and basically did this. It was an ugly game, filled with turnovers, bad shots, turnovers, horrible defense, and turnovers. The injuries might be starting to catch up to the Nuggets. Ty Lawson has been forced to play heavy minutes due to Nate Robinson's season-ending injury and Andre Miller's continued absence from the team. He played well enough last night, but he can only do so much.

According to head coach Brian Shaw, de facto backup point guard Randy Foye had to leave the game early last night because his hamstring tightened up. Hopefully he will be fine to play tonight, but that really highlights how tenuous the Nuggets back-court situation is right now. Once the Miller issue is resolved, this could change. For now though, Lawson will continue to shoulder the load as the team scraps to get back in the playoff picture.

After facing former Nuggets Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton in New York, Denver will see another familiar face in Chauncey Billups tonight. Of course, at this stage in his career, Billups isn't quite the impact player he once was. He had two points in nine minutes last night, and is averaging a career-low 3.9 points and 16.7 minutes this season. Still, he is held in high regard by most, if not all, Nuggets fans and Pistons fans will forever appreciate him for his years of steady play and his incredible performance in the 2004 NBA Finals

The players the Nuggets will have to worry about are the aforementioned Jennings and Drummond. Jennings will be a challenge for Lawson on the defensive end, and we all know how well the Nuggets' front-court defends against good centers and power forwards. With that being said, I can also see Greg Monroe being a factor in this game. And Josh Smith, despite his ahem, interesting shot selection, is always capable of putting up big numbers.

This is certainly a winnable game for Denver, but it all depends on what team shows up. As we have seen all season, the most consistent thing about the Nuggets is their inconsistency. Will it be the team that beat the Indiana Pacers comfortably in Denver, or will it be the team that let the New York Knicks look like the title contenders their owner proclaimed them to be at the start of the season? We'll see if Shaw and his staff can make the right adjustments and end this road trip on a positive note. Otherwise those flickering playoff hopes may just be snuffed out.

Game Predictions -

- Ex-Nugget Carmelo Anthony lit up the Nuggets with 31 points in 33 minutes, and J.R. Smith wasn't too shabby either with 13 points of his own. Chauncey Billups will continue the trend, scoring at least 10 points.

- Kenneth Faried was a dreadful -28 in plus-minus last night. He has been playing well recently, but look for Darrell Arthur to play more minutes tonight, especially if Monroe starts going off.

- Lawson and Jennings will have a point guard duel, with Lawson coming out on top for his first 30-point game of the season.

- Timofey Mozgov has been quiet of late, but he'll break out of his slump tonight with a double-double.

- I think Denver is going to play much harder and more focused this game, and I see them winning a close one 105-101.

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