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Preview: Denver Nuggets face the Miami Heat

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After impressive showings in their first two outings, the Denver Nuggets try to finish the regular slate of Summer League games unbeaten as they take on the Miami Heat

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Summer League squad fielded by the Denver Nuggets is looking as impressive as it was expected to be.  The Nuggets handled a brash Kris Dunn and the rest of the Minnesota Timberwolves via dominating performances by Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris that ripped away control of the game in the second half, suppored by some nice chip-ins from understudies Jamal Murray and Juan Hernangomez.

After taking a bow and then a seat in the stands for the rest of Summer League, Mudiay and Harris were treated to an extreme blowout of a Memphis squad that had no shot even against players without as much NBA experience.  Axel Toupane and JaKarr Sampson dueled for attention (with both on the same 1 year unguaranteed contract for the upcoming season) but it was Jimmer Fredette who stole the show as he rained down 26 points and had his way with the hapless Grizzlies.

Can Denver top those performances in Game 3 as the individual players try to garner notice around the league in order to secure an eventual 15-man spot on someone's squad?  Every team has executives in Las Vegas, and it only takes one pair of eyes to make a career.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Miami Heat

When: 6:00 P.M. MDT

Where: Cox Pavillion, Las Vegas NV

How to watch: ESPN2

Rival blog: HotHotHoops

Miami Heat Denver Nuggets  
Advantage
PG Briante Weber Jamal Murray Nuggets
SG David Walker Jimmer Fredette Nuggets
SF Rodney McGruder Axel Toupane Nuggets
PF Victor Rudd Juancho Hernangomez Nuggets
C

Kevin Tumba

Petr Cornelie Nuggets
Bench

Nic Moore, Damian Lee, Justise Winslow, Okaro White, Stefan Jankovic, Juwan Howard Jr, Chris Horton, Norvel Pelle, Michael Carrera, Nathan Boothe

Axel Toupane, Josh Adams, Ondrej Balvin, Antonio Barton, Darius Carter, Jakarr Sampson, Mateusz Ponitka, Antwan Scott, Josh Scott Nuggets

Starting lineups are based on myth and legend, translated from cuneiform and ancient Sanskrit.

Key Matchup:  Jamal Murray vs the screen game

Murray has had problems getting his own game to flourish so far in Summer League. When he's running point he doesn't seem to have either the strength or vision of an Emmanuel Mudiay to thread passes.  He spent most of his year in college off the ball and may simply be struggling to regain his on-ball rhythm, but the easiest way to get his game rhythm back may simply to be to move him back off-ball for the time being and screen him open.  He doesn't yet have the handle to take a lot of defenders and create space for himself, so coach Micah Nori needs to do a better job of creating space for him and a bunch of screens would be a nice start.  Drive-and-kicks from some of the better creators on the team back to him wouldn't hurt either.

Key thing to watch for: Which member of Denver's Summer League squad will light it up next?

In Game 1 it was Mudiay and Harris.  Game 2 brought out Jimmer and Petr Cornelie (who had been scoreless in Game 1 but tossed in 19 points in Game 2).  Who's next?  Murray and Hernangomez had solid first games, but neither flashed a ton in the second one.  Murray couldn't shoot and Hernangomez simply didn't in limited minutes, but both are looking for a big splash. Local-ish products Josh Adams, Josh Scott and Antwan Scott have all been nearly silent, but their big-minutes game could be tonight.  With Ondrej Balvin being a complete wash in the first couple games and the Heat having just two players taller than 6'9 on their Summer League roster, Denver may go smaller for most of the game and see what happens.

One thing to note: Who wants it more?

Denver has been impressive in its first two outings while the Heat put up just 64 points while getting destroyed by Dallas.  So much of Summer League is about the right combination of players on the court, but Denver's roster should be far more able to mix-and-match until that combination is found.  Miami has some players like McGruder who have non-guaranteed contracts or training camp presumptions and are expected to fight for roster spots, though, and those players should bring more fight than last time out.  This Heat squad already played in Orlando and should have figured out a few things.  Their last outing in Las Vegas may have been a glitch.

Prediction: The Heat put up a better fight but Denver has too many players capable of big nights and a few of those horses pull ahead down the stretch, with Jamal Murray being one of them.  84-76 Nuggets.