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Nuggets vs. Jazz preview: Denver doesn't want to be April Fools

Denver starts the last month of the season against the Utah Jazz, hoping to take the season series.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Game 75: 2014-15 NBA Season

@

28-46 (11-26 on road)
Series 2-1 Nugs
33-41 (18-19 at home)
Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Energy Solutions Arena - Salt Lake City, Utah
7:00 PM MT
Altitude / 104.3 FM

Ty Lawson PG Trey Burke
Randy Foye
SG Dante Exum
Danilo Gallinari
SF Gordon Hayward
Kenneth Faried PF Derrick Favors
Jusuf Nurkic C Rudy Gobert
Notes
Denver Stiffs Blogs SLC Dunk

J.J. Hickson (hip) is doubtful; Danilo Gallinari (undisclosed) is probable; Darrell Arthur (calf) is doubtful

Injuries

Rodney Hood (concussion) will not play; Derrick Favors (back) is probable; Alec Burks (shoulder) is out for the season; Carrick Felix (knee) is out indefinitely

A win gives Denver the season series against a division foe...
Etc... But a Jazz win brings Utah's home record back to .500 for the season.

The Denver Nuggets head to Utah tonight to play the jazz and their league-leading defense. Yes, you read that right. In at least one defense category (points per game allowed, at 94.9), the Utah Jazz have somehow crafted the league's stingiest defense.

Denver will be thin at the power forward slot tonight, with both J.J. Hickson and Darrell Arthur doubtful for the evening. Expect to see more mileage for rookie Joffrey Lauvergne and possibly some smaller lineups on the floor throughout the night.

The Jazz will be without usual starter Rodney Hood after an elbow to the head the other night gave him a concussion, and a trip through the league's protocols on the same. Utah has been on a tear of late, going from a lottery contender to nearly respectable in the last half of the season, notching two wins in their last pair of games after a four-game skid.

As for the Nuggets, they've shown more effort and grit since Melvin Hunt stepped into the fray as head coach, driving the team back to a more concerted effort on both ends of the floor. Players have responded well (for the most part), even going so far as to have a couple of them endorse Hunt's long-term status as the team's coach. Coach Hunt's mantra has been to play all 48 minutes of the game, regardless of the score, and for the most part, the team has followed that request. For the Nuggets to win tonight and take the season series from Utah, a few things need to happen.

Break triple digits - That stingy Utah defense has opponents flummoxed for scoring, and when Utah holds the opposition below 96 points, they have a 29-7 record to show for it. When Denver beat Utah handily last week, it came from hot shooting and excellent sharing. The Nuggets will need some of both this evening to get out of Utah with a win.

Win the three spot - Utah's Gordon Hayward is having his best season yet, and can be a tough matchup for most teams. But right across the way is a nightmare matchup for most teams as well in Danilo Gallinari. If Gallo can keep Hayward at bay (Heyward-Bey, anyone?), the Nuggets should have a great shot at a road win.

Ty one on - Ty Lawson has had a statistically impressive year, and has been a steady contributor, even on tough nights. With Hood out, Utah's backcourt could be thin tonight, and pressure from Ty only increases what Jameer Nelson may be able to do when he spells Lawson. Let's hope Ty has his jets on after a few days rest.

What do you see for tonight, Nuggets Nation? Can we take the series from the Jazz and split this road trip, or are we limping home tonight?