|Phoenix Suns||Denver Nuggets
|PG||Ronnie Price||Emmanuel Mudiay||Nuggets|
|SG||Devin Booker||Gary Harris||Suns|
|SF||P.J. Tucker||JaKarr Sampson||Suns|
|PF||Alex Len||Kenneth Faried||Nuggets|
|C||Tyson Chandler||Nikola Jokic||Even|
Mirza Teletovic, John Jenkins, Archie Goodwin, Jon Leuer, Chase Budinger, Phil Pressey
|Will Barton, D.J. Augustin, Axel Toupane, Darrell Arthur, Joffrey Lauvergne, Mike Miller||Nuggets|
Injured players: Danilo Gallinari, ankle (out), Wilson Chandler, hip (out), Jusuf Nurkic, knee (probable), Darrell Arthur, knee (probable), Eric Bledsoe, knee (out), Brandon Knight, groin (questionable), T.J. Warren, foot (out)
Who will start for the Nuggets, Kenneth Faried or the Manimal? Lately, the Manimal has been playing for the Nuggets, with No. 35 beasting on the offensive and defensive glass while thriving in the vertical game. Manimal seems to play better after the All-Star break, and he's doing so again this season. With Gallinari out, the Nuggets are asking Manimal to step up as a team leader, and his energy levels seem to have risen to the challenge. Len and Chandler are a tall frontcourt for the Nuggets, and Chandler is such a savvy offensive rebounder while Len is a physical mismatch for Manimal. Hopefully Kenneth Faried, the one that doesn't rebound and takes too many midrange jumpers, stays at home today.
Can Gary Harris limit Devin Booker? Booker is going to get shots up - he's the primary scorer for their team. But Harris comes into this game matching up well physically against Booker, and should be able to bother him into a lower field goal percentage. Harris also needs to make Booker work on offense, running him into screens, cutting backdoor to the rim, and forcing him to expend energy on both ends of the court. The Knicks were the latest team to come to Denver and get fatigued due to the altitude - the Suns, with their limited depth, should be the next victim.
Consider the Tank Rank. Neither of these teams are playoff teams - I feel comfortable saying that the Nuggets aren't going to be the 8-seed this year, and the Suns are mathematically eliminated (I think). The Nuggets have won two in a row, which has resulted in the Sacramento Kings "passing" them in the lottery. The Suns are hanging on to the third-worst record in the league thanks to a recent surge by the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers are playing better, but Byron Scott may have to fix that in order for the Lakers to keep their draft pick from going to Philadelphia.
A win by Phoenix would mean the Lakers would be able to give D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson more minutes. A loss, and that may mean more Tarik Black. A win by Denver, and the odds of them swapping with the Knicks improves. A loss by Denver, and they slide down "ahead" of the Kings and get closer to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Win. If the Knicks get a top 3 pick, it'll be so much sweeter to swap than if it's an organic top 3 pick https://t.co/j6tsyxOYLC— Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan) March 9, 2016
Nuggets fans should be cheering for wins. Remember, the way the Nuggets end this season can have a big impact on their attitude over the offseason. Winning is contagious, and has a positive effect on the entire organization. The Nuggets shouldn't be satisfied with keeping their pick and watching the Knicks send their pick to the Raptors. The Nuggets should be sending their pick to the Raptors (through the Knicks).
Imagine how sweet it will be to watch the lottery drawing, sipping on a beverage of your choosing, when the envelope for a top 3 pick is drawn and has the New York Knicks card on the inside, granting the Nuggets their first top 3 pick since Carmelo. How sweet that day will be, as we gleefully bask in the fruits of the Carmelo trade finally end with a glorious draft pick. I better stop before I get too ahead of myself.
Prediction: Denver Nuggets 109 - Phoenix Suns 94. Lots of Manimal.