The Denver Nuggets are set to take on the Detroit Pistons for the first time this season in a matchup between two of the four teams that have defeated the Golden State Warriors so far. The Nuggets are coming off two straight heartbreaking losses, the most recent being a 102-101 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies. In order to bounce back and add another win to their eight-game home stand, they will have to overcome a much-improved Pistons squad led by Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. The Pistons suffered a 16-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night, despite 19 points and a ridiculous 22 rebounds from Drummond. Still, the Pistons are already only nine games away from reaching their total number of wins from last season and are currently in sixth place in a tough Eastern Conference.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, will try to play a more complete 48 minutes in this game with a better defensive effort than the one they gave the Grizzlies in the first quarter on Thursday night. They fell behind by 14 by the end of the first by allowing them to shoot lights out. Despite this, they played an inspired game the rest of the way and will have to continue that effort against the Pistons in order to get a win.
Who: Detroit Pistons (23-20) at Denver Nuggets (16-27)
When: 7:30 PM MST
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO
How to Watch: Altitude
Rival Blog: Detroit Bad Boys
|Detroit Pistons||Denver Nuggets||Advantage|
|PG||Reggie Jackson||Emmanuel Mudiay||Pistons|
|SG||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||Gary Harris||Even|
|SF||Marcus Morris||Danilo Gallinari||Nuggets|
|PF||Ersan Ilyasova||Kenneth Faried||Nuggets|
|C||Andre Drummond||Nikola Jokic||Pistons|
Stanley Johnson, Brandon Jennings, Anthony Tolliver, Aron Baynes, Steve Blake
|Will Barton, Jusuf Nurkic, Randy Foye, Joffrey Lauvergne, Mike Miller, Darrell Arthur||Nuggets|
Injured Players: Wilson Chandler, hip (out), Jameer Nelson, wrist (doubtful), Darrell Arthur, adductor, probable, Jodie Meeks, foot (out)
Key Matchup: Nikola Jokic vs. Andre Drummond
Nikola Jokic is clearly a star-in-the-making for the Nuggets. He had 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists (including a jaw-dropping behind-the-back pass to Kenneth Faried) and 2 steals in only 13 minutes on Thursday night. When Nuggets fans tune in to games, he's surely one of the primary focuses. Tonight will be no different, especially since he's matching up against Drummond, who averages 17.7 points, 15.5 rebounds and leads the league in double-doubles. Jokic will certainly have his hands full trying to contain the sure-to-be all-star and tonight is a great opportunity to see where he stands against one of the better centers in the league. He and the entire frontcourt for the Nuggets will have to battle for every rebound against Drummond. Jokic's interior defense is still a work in progress and this matchup will certainly be a big test for the rookie.
Key thing to watch for: Emmanuel Mudiay improving?
On Thursday night against the Grizzlies, Mudiay flashed some serious potential. We already knew he was a great passer with good point-guard instincts, but against the Grizzlies he showed some additional skills that should have Nuggets fans excited. He started knocking jump shots down in key moments of the game, proving that he can score when his team needs him to. It was one of his best games of the season, as he finished with 14 points on 6/13 shooting, 8 assists and only one turnover. It was refreshing to see him knock the mid-range shot down, hit some three-pointers and still be aggressive in finding his teammates. The Nuggets will most likely need him to have a similar performance tonight against the Pistons in order to get a win. Can the rook keep it up?