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Preview: Nuggets road trip continues against Nets

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The Nuggets will try to shake off some rust against one of the worst frontcourt rotations in the league Sunday afternoon.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets continue their road trip with a visit to the city that never sleeps (unless it’s the NBA playoffs) with their first game in the city against the Nets with a matchup against the Knicks on Monday.

The Nets have won three games this season, which is one more than the Nuggets, but unless things go terribly wrong, the Nuggets should be able to take that 1-2-3 train up to Madison Square Garden with a win under the belt.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (2-3) at Brooklyn Nets (3-3)

When: 4:00 PM MST

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

How to watch/listen: Altitude, League Pass

Position Nuggets Nets Advantage
PG Jamal Murray D'Angelo Russell Nets
SG Gary Harris Spencer Dinwiddie Nuggets
SF Wilson Chandler Caris LeVert Nuggets
PF Paul Millsap Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Timofey Mozgov Nuggets
Bench Emmanuel Mudiay, Malik Beasley, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried, Mason Plumlee Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris, Sean Kilpatrick, Trevor Booker, Jarrett Allen Nuggets

Injuries: Juancho Hernangomez (mono - out), Quincy Acy (groin - out), DeMarre Carroll (doubtful - ankle), Jeremy Lin (IR - knee)

Key Matchup

The Nuggets max salary frontcourt versus the Nets “Staten Island” frontcourt. This is the game that Millsap and Jokic should have circled on their calender with the label, “This is the game where we f%&k a team up.” The Nets might put Trevor Booker into the starting lineup, and push Hollis-Jefferson to small forward due to injuries to other forwards on their roster, but it shouldn’t matter.

The Nets just had a blowout loss to the Knicks, where they were outrebounded 55-34, including a whopping 19-4 edge to the Knicks on the offensive glass. Now Jokic and Millsap are no Enes Kanter and Kristaps Porzinigis - in fact, some would tell you the Nuggets pair is far superior - and one could think that they should have the same advantage the Knicks did.

If Mozgov has another 93 points and 29 rebounds performance, let’s just end all discussion of Nikola Jokic being the best current or former Nuggets center in the league.

Long live Timofey Mozgov
@netw4rk

Three things to watch for

Is Emmanuel Mudiay still better than D’Angelo Russell? Russell is starting for the Nets, but everyone knows Styrofoam floats to the top of the tank in an outhouse, so that’s not a surprise. The former Lakers guard is averaging 21.4 points, 4.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds this season with his new team, and is getting every opportunity to show what he can do in a starring role.

Meanwhile, Mudiay has been outplaying Jamal Murray, albeit in a reserve role with the team. He’s shooting 33 percent on his 3-point attempts, and only three players have made more than Mudiay this season (Harris, Barton, and Jokic). If Murray isn’t going to be making 3-pointers, putting him out against starters is only going to damn his development.

It’s time to put Mudiay back into his rightful place - starting point guard for the Denver Nuggets. It’s a new day, and it’s his.

Wilson Chandler would like to buy a bucket. We know that Chandler can score, and efficiently. This isn’t a question, it’s something he’s been doing for many seasons in the NBA. While he’s been asked to play a vital defensive role for the starting lineup, the coaching staff had to be hoping for better offensive play this season. The only starter shooting worse than Chandler is Murray, and that needs to change.

Let’s see if Chandler can have an okay game against LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson. Those guys are underrated across the league, and Chandler may be surprised with how well they can play.

Can Will Barton stay hot? Barton has been one of the three best players for the Nuggets to start the season. He’s been red hot from the perimeter some games, but when he doesn’t have it, he really doesn’t have it. Hopefully he’s rested and ready for the game tonight, because I don’t think any of Joe Harris, Sean Kilpatrick, or Allen Crabbe can stop him from going to the rim, and none of the Nets bigs are going to be able to block his shot.

Prediction

112-91 Nuggets.