The Denver Nuggets are back on the road, this time to take on the Dallas Mavericks. Both the Nuggets and Mavericks are on losing streaks, and both are coming most recently off a loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Mavs have lost three in a row, while the Nuggets have dropped their last five. In order to get back on the right track, Denver will have to defeat a team that is in the top four in the Western Conference at the moment, sitting with a record of 9-7.
The Mavericks were expected to drop significantly in the standings this season after losing key free agents like Rajon Rondo, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire in the summer. However, they’ve been able to keep their heads above water so far with the continued good play of Dirk Nowitzki, who is averaging 17.4 points a game to go along with 7.1 rebounds, and Deron Williams, who is averaging 13.6 points and 5.7 assists a game. They also added some talent in free agency to make up for their losses, such as Zaza Pachulia and Wesley Matthews, who have both been contributing as starters. Still, their only win against a team currently above .500 came against the Boston Celtics a little over a week ago. The Nuggets will nonetheless have a tough time getting back in the win column on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, but it’s important to get this win so that the Nuggets do not build a hole too big to get out of once their injured players return and the schedule eases up.
Who: Denver Nuggets (6-10) at Dallas Mavericks (9-7)
When: 6:30PM MST
Where: American Airlines Center
Where to Watch: Altitude 2, NBA TV
Rival blog: Mavs Moneyball
Raymond Felton, Devin Harris, Charlie Villanueva, Justin Anderson, JaVale McGee, Dwight Powell
Injured Players: Wilson Chandler, hip (out), Jusuf Nurkic, knee (out), Kenneth Faried, ankle (questionable), Joffrey Lauvergne, back (questionable), Gary Harris, concussion-like symptoms (questionable), J.J. Barea, ankle (out)
Key Matchup: Deron Williams vs. Emmanuel Mudiay
Mudiay has seen a lot of tough matchups in his short time in the NBA so far, and tonight will not prove any different. Although Williams is way past his prime, as he readily admitted, and has struggled mightily with injuries in the past few years, he’s still a dangerous player that definitely has the experience advantage over Mudiay. This season, he’s actually averaging a little over 31 minutes a game, while shooting 41.8% from the field. Tonight, the point guard matchup is all about experience vs. youth, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top by the end of the game. It would be encouraging to see Mudiay win this matchup, as he’s struggled with savvy point guards like Tony Parker and Chris Paul in the past. Mudiay has been pretty bad from the field so far, and it would be nice to see him get into a little bit of a rhythm against Williams in his hometown of Dallas.
Thing to Watch: Playing a complete 48 minutes
Lately, the Nuggets have struggled to put together a complete effort through 48 minutes. It seems they will play great in certain stretches, but horrible in others. Last night against the Spurs, the Nuggets played well most of the first half, but gave up a run by the Spurs at the end of the second quarter to allow them take the lead. They picked things up in the third quarter, but after the Spurs got into an offensive rhythm and the Nuggets couldn't counter, they were never able to regain control. This seems to be the theme of the season. The Nuggets will make you think they’ve figured it out, but then will falter and let the opponent take over. Can the Nuggets finally put together a complete effort, with minimal lapses on both ends? Mudiay mentioned in his post-game interview that they tend to hang their heads when the other team goes on a run, and this is definitely something that will need to be fixed if the Nuggets want to win games. It’s tough to do on the second night of a back-to-back, but it must be done if this young team wants to end their losing streak.
Key question: Will Joffrey Lauvergne play?
Joffrey Lauvergne was active last night against the San Antonio Spurs, but Michael Malone opted not to play him. Perhaps this was so that he could be fresher for tonight’s game. Nuggets Nation is probably feeling pretty anxious to see Lauvergne back on the court again. In the three games he’s played so far this season, he’s averaged 10.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.