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Preview: Nuggets look for revenge in Denver against Pistons

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After getting tossed around like an old tennis ball in Detroit, the Nuggets look to pick up their first home win of the season against the Stan Van Gundy-lead team.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Detroit Pistons Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets are out for revenge against the Pistons, who decisively won their first game of the season 103-86 on Nov. 5.

It’s not Inigo Montoya out to kill the six-fingered man levels of revenge, but there’s definitely some motivation for the Nuggets to show that they are better than the team that took the court one week ago.

In that game, the Pistons jumped out to a 20-4 lead and never looked back. The Pistons had six players finish with double-digits in scoring, lead by Andre Drummond, who posted a 19 point, 20 rebound, 3 block line.

Detroit has a schedule disadvantage working against them tonight, having played a game on the road against San Antonio last night, a game they lost by a score of 94-86. The Nuggets have history on their side as well - the Pistons haven’t found victory here in Denver since 2009.

One of the teams will have a first tonight as well - the Pistons haven’t won a road game this season (0-5), and the Nuggets haven’t won a home game this season (0-2). Here’s hoping the Nuggets fans that attend the game will get to see the team pull off a win.

The Basics

Who: Detroit Pistons vs Denver Nuggets

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

How to watch: NBATV, Altitude, in person, at Jake’s

Rival blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Position Pistons Nuggets Advantage
PG Ish Smith Emmanuel Mudiay Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Gary Harris Even
SF Tobias Harris Danilo Gallinari Even
PF Marcus Morris Nikola Jokic Nuggets
C Andre Drummond Jusuf Nurkic Pistons
Bench rotation Beno Udrih, Aron Baynes, Stanley Johnson, Jon Leuer Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, Kenneth Faried Even

Injury Report: Reggie Jackson (out-knee), Darrell Arthur (questionable-knee), Will Barton (out-ankle), Wilson Chandler (questionable-hamstring)

What to watch for: You kids are soft - you lack discipline!

Here’s the thing about starting lineups - they’re supposed to help your team get the lead in the first quarter. That hasn’t been the outcome in a majority of the Nuggets games.

On the season, the Nuggets are a -4.6 in the first quarter, according to NBA Stats, good for fourth-worst in the league. Only the Celtics, Mavericks, and Magic have worse starts to games - that’s right, the laughingstocks of the league, the Nets and the 76ers, are better in the first quarter than the Nuggets.

The main problem has been turnovers - the Nuggets average 4.5 turnovers in the first quarter alone, according to NBA Stats (their worst quarter for turnovers is the fourth quarter, at 5.3).

The Pistons got off to a great start in the last game, but on the second game of a back to back (SEGABABA for the old timers), the Nuggets need to come out firing on all cylinders. It doesn’t have to be Emmanuel Mudiay scoring 24 points in a quarter, but the team needs to do something to make sure they gain an edge early.

Maybe Michael Malone needs to go all John Kimble on the Nuggets young starters.

Key Statistic: Offensive rebounding

Last season the Pistons were one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. Lead by Drummond, the Pistons averaged 12.5 rebounds per game on the offensive side of the court, good for second in the league behind Oklahoma City. The Nuggets weren’t far behind them, at 11.5 per game, good for sixth in the league.

This year, the Nuggets are still one of the top teams in the league on the offensive glass, averaging 11.6 per game, thanks to the efforts of Nurkic, Jokic, and Faried. The Pistons have dropped off their pace from last season, and are down to 10.0 per game so far.

Getting those rebounds is an easy way for both teams to score. The bigs are catching the ball near the rim and often can get an easy tap in for two points. If the big can’t go back up, kicking out for a 3-pointer while the defense scrambles is one of the best scoring opportunities in the game.

For the Pistons, who had to fly to Denver from San Antonio, it’s going to be tough to hustle for those defensive rebounds. There are few things more frustrating for a defense to execute for 20 seconds, force a miss, and then have to start all over again when the offense gets the rebound.

Whichever team can win the offensive glass will have a great chance at winning the game.

Nuggets spotlight: Nikola Jokic

The Nuggets sophomore big has not started the season playing the same way he ended last season. Jokic is averaging 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and has seen his minutes be inconsistent each night.

Jokic is one of the best players on the team - why Kenneth Faried is playing more minutes per game than a player who is so good is beyond me.

The Pistons offer a good matchup for “Jokic the power forward.” Morris is a quasi-stretch four, and Jokic should be able to defend him better than other stretch-fours in the league.

There are a lot of things to be frustrated about the start of the season if you’re a Nuggets fan, but for me, the misuse of Jokic has been the most frustrating thing.

Prediction: Nuggets 107 - Pistons 103

The Nuggets got whooped by the Warriors, who were on the second game of a back to back, and need to respond tonight against a team that isn’t on the same level as the Warriors. The Nuggets have played so many close games thanks to their inability to avoid turnovers, and I don’t expect this game to be any different.