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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to right the ship against the Phoenix Suns

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It’s battle of two young promising teams who have been anything but early in the season.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets find themselves mired in a four game losing streak and searching for answers. Questions swirl around the proper rotations to use which have been complicated by a string of injuries in the young season. Tonight the Nuggets will search for not only the solution to what ails their rotation but also their first home victory after dropping the first three at the Pepsi Center. Working in their favor is the fact that the equally disappointing Phoenix Suns will be the opponent in the evening’s matchup.

Phoenix entered the season much like Denver did, as a young team who despite being unable to secure a playoff birth last season showed many signs of promise which has their fans dreaming of a competitive season that could ultimately result in a trip to the postseason. However, just as the Nuggets have, the Suns have faltered out of the gate, winning just three games and losing four of their last five. Phoenix has notably struggled to make shots from beyond the arc and also to defend anyone. They rank near the bottom of the association in field goal percentage allowed and are dead last in the league in points allowed, giving up a whopping 115.6 points per game.

The Basics

Who: Phoenix Suns (3-8) at Denver Nuggets (3-7)

When: 7:00 P.M. MST

Where: The Can, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and Altitude Radio KKSE AM950

Rival blog: Bright Side of the Sun

Position Nuggets Suns Advantage
PG Emmanuel Mudiay Eric Bledsoe Suns
SG Jameer Nelson Devin Booker Suns
SF Danilo Gallinari T.J. Warren Nuggets
PF Kenneth Faried Marqueese Chriss Nuggets
C Jusuf Nurkic Tyson Chandler Nuggets
Bench Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Wilson Chandler, Will Barton, Darrell Arthur, Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley Alex Len, Dragan Bender, Brandon Knight, P.J. Tucker, Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa, Even

Injured players: Wilson Chandler - probable (hamstring), Darrell Arthur - probable (knee) Will Barton - out (ankle), Gary Harris - out (foot)

Key matchup: Emmanuel Mudiay vs Devin Booker

Mudiay and Booker should see plenty of each other during tonight’s match up. If Jameer Nelson once again gets the start at shooting guard it would likely mean he will defend Eric Bledsoe, leaving Mudiay and Booker to go at one another. Last time the two met in March Mudiay put up 30 points and Booker was not to be out done with 35 points of his own. Yet despite promising rookie seasons for both players, each has regressed early on this season. Mudiay has been plagued by turnovers and poor shooting which seem to be getting worse, not better, as he progresses into his sophomore season. Meanwhile, Booker has been unable to reproduce the shooting acumen that made him such a prized draft pick as well as a widely regarded budding star. So far this season Booker has shot an alarmingly low 27.5% from three point range on 1.3 more attempts per game than he shot last year. Can either young guard get back on track tonight?

Key thing to watch for: will Jokic get any burn?

Nikola Jokic’s start to the season has been anything but promising. The second year center’s production is down across the board and with coach Michael Malone seemingly abandoning pairing him with Jusuf Nurkic, Jokic has seen a drop in his minutes, though he did see extended garbage time minutes in Denver’s last game. Coach Malone remarked that he was proud of how his young players closed out the game and played the right way. Could this mean more meaningful game action for Jokic? One can only hope. Jokic still stands as the most promising and highest ceiling player on the Nuggets roster, and his demotion to the bench and reduced minutes seem to be directly contradictory to the direction the Nuggets are trying to head.

Opening thought: condolences to Tyson Chandler

Chandler will be returning to action tonight after missing the last three games while mourning the death of his mother, who as Chandler put it “won her battle with cancer...she won because she is no longer in pain and her sickness was healed in Heaven.” It seems that almost everyone these days has been affected by the loss of a loved one to cancer. I personally lost my grandfather to lung cancer when I was a young age. Regardless of when, or what particular cancer it was that affected a person, it’s never easy. Hopefully tonight’s game will help Chandler gain a small sense of normalcy and help the process of healing. I have no experience in losing a parent, but I can empathize with his feeling of loss right now and I wish nothing but the best for him and his family.