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Nuggets return to action as Miami Heat pay a visit to Pepsi Center

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After a few much needed days of rest, the Nuggets are back tonight to play host to the Miami Heat

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Two full days in between games seems like forever, but for the injury plagued Nuggets this rest has been a wonderful thing after playing the last few games with only 10 available players. In that time, Mike Miller has returned to the team, Juancho Hernangomez has been upgraded to "probable"  and both Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton were able to practice with the team. Gary Harris participated in the non-contact portion of practice as well. Per the Nuggets' game notes, both Gallo and Barton are still listed as questionable for tonight's game and new to the list is Darrell Arthur who has an illness. If even one of Gallinari or Barton is able to play, it would be a huge pick up for Denver at the SF position.

Tonight, the Nuggets are back in action against the visiting Miami Heat, who of course are without long time superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This version of the Heat is a banged up team as well; Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters are both listed as out, and Tyler Johnson is questionable after an oral surgery. Miami last played Monday night and fell to the Celtics 112 to 104. With two days' rest this should a be win for the Nuggets, as Miami is a far cry from the super team they once were. However, the Heat has won three straight against Denver and will certainly be looking to make it four in a row.

The Basics

Who: Miami Heat (5-12) at Denver Nuggets (7-10)

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

How to watch: Altitude

Rival blog: Hot Hot Hoops

Position Heat Nuggets Advantage
PG Goran Dragic Emmanuel Mudiay Heat
SG Rodney McGruder Jameer Nelson Nuggets
SF Josh Richardson Wilson Chandler Nuggets
PF Derrick Williams Kenneth Faried Nuggets
C Hassan Whiteside Jusuf Nurkic Heat
Key bench guys Luke Babbitt, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Josh McRoberts Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, Alonzo Gee Nuggets


Injury Report: Gary Harris - out (ankle), Danilo Gallinari - questionable (thigh), Will Barton - questionable (ankle), Darrell Arthur - questionable (illness), Justise Winslow - out (wrist), Dion Waiters - out (groin), Tyler Johnson - questionable (oral surgery)

Key match up: Jusuf Nurkic vs. Hassan Whiteside

The Nuggets should have the match up advantage at just about every other position, but the one that can do the most damage is definitely at center. Hassan Whiteside is one of the best big men in the league and is a physical, intimidating presence in the paint. He's also far and away Miami's best player. He leads the NBA in rebounds per game (15.1) and is third in blocks per game (2.5), and is holding opponents to just 41.5% shooting at the rim when he's protecting it. Nurkic, on the other hand, started off the season very strong but has regressed a bit as of late. His job will be to match Whiteside's physicality down low and keep Miami's leading scorer at bay as much as he can.

Opening thought: Keep the momentum going

On Sunday against Phoenix the Nuggets came out hot then gave up the lead, making what looked to be a blowout game a close contest over the last three quarters. Denver has struggled this season in the opening frame, but when the Nuggets have come out ready to play they have had opportunities to win games. Looking ahead at the schedule, the best thing Denver can do is dominate in this game and build some confidence heading into Friday's match against Houston before the team heads on a six game road trip, first at Utah then across the lower echelon of the Eastern Conference. The next several games are all winnable, but the Nuggets must take care of business tonight first.

Prediction: Nuggets 111, Heat 99

This should be as winnable of a game as any the Nuggets have had this season. Miami has one elite player in Whiteside, a decent point guard in Dragic and not much else, and their record shows. Even with the injuries faced of late, Denver has a match up advantage almost all across the board and should have few issues putting Miami away. I expect Wilson Chandler to continue his hot streak and Emmanuel Mudiay to keep playing smart basketball in leading the Nuggets to a solid victory.