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Preview: Nuggets take on the Bucks in Milwaukee

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The Denver Nuggets look to get another road win against the Bucks to keep their playoff position.

John Henson guards Nikola Jokic

The Nuggets are on the second night of a back to back on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks after a blowout victory against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. The Nuggets executed on defense, and (hooray!) it seems that Nikola Jokic is back in the groove. Denver’s darling—as I have nicknamed him—recorded his third triple-double of the season with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler did the heavy lifting on scoring combining for 42 points with a total of 7 Nuggets in double digits.

The Bucks are coming off a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, and although they sit at 10th in the Eastern Conference their win-loss record looks very similar to Denver’s. Milwaukee is 5-5 in the last 10 games, averaging about 51% from the field and 39% from three. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker lead the scoring effort for the Bucks this season, but with Parker out the Bucks’ next best bet is Greg Monroe who averages about half the points that Parker used to bring in. Milwaukee is .500 at home, but they’ll be coming off a day’s rest while the Nuggets are on a back to back on the road.

The Basics:

Who: Milwaukee Bucks (26-32) vs Denver Nuggets (27-33)

When: 6:00 PM MST

Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

How to watch/listen: Altitude, 950 AM

Rival blog: Brew Hoop

Position Nuggets Bucks Advantage
PG Jameer Nelson Matthew Dellavedova Nuggets
SG Gary Harris Tony Snell Nuggets
SF Danilo Gallinari Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks
PF Wilson Chandler Mirza Teletovic Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic John Henson Nuggets
Bench Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Juancho Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee, Darrell Arthur, Roy Hibbert, Emmanuel Mudiay, Mike Miller, Malik Beasley Malcom Brogdon, Jason Terry, Michael Beasley, Spencer Hawes, Greg Monroe, Rashad Vaughn, Thon Maker, Khris Middleton, Axel Toupane

Injury report: Kenneth Faried - out (back), Jabari Parker - out (knee)

Key Stat: 46.2 & 36.2

The Nuggets out rebounded the Bucks by an average of 10 per game for the month of February—46.2 compared to 36.2. As terrible as the Nuggets’ offensive rebounding has been, the Bucks has been even worse. Denver brought in an average of 13.4 offensive rebounds per game last month while the Bucks only managed to eek out 6.7. Antetokounmpo, Henson & Monroe carry the rebounding effort for the Bucks while the Nuggets rely upon Jokic, Faried, & Mason Plumlee. With Faried out, the Nuggets will look to Wilson Chandler to pick up the slack.

Three things to watch for:

1. Defense against the Greek Freak

It will be crucial for the Nuggets to come out ready on defense. Antetokounmpo is tough to guard, and heats up quickly so Denver won’t be able to let down their guard for one minute. If they can shut the Greek Freak down and keep a sharp focus on defensive rebounds they will likely be able to keep the Bucks’ scoring at bay by minimizing second chance opportunities.

2. Cutting to help Jokic do Jokic

Nikola Jokic is a very effective passer when his teammates help him by making properly timed cuts. If his teammates play lazy, Jokic is unable to find guys as easily for the assist. Jokic has emerged as the team leader, but he needs the assistance of his teammates to help him be the great point-center that he is.

3. Team work makes the dream work

The Nuggets get into a bad way when they throw up a quick three in an attempt to be the game hero—#NuggetOfTheNight. Keep an eye out for players who give up good shots to find a teammate open for a great shot. Sure, a good look at the three point line is an opportunity to take, but if the shot clock is full find a way to move the ball. I know I’m repeating myself here, but the Nuggets are very effective when they take the ball to the rim to lure defenders their way only pass and find a wide open shot. Make a timely cut to get open for a teammate looking to pass. That’s properly executed offense running like a well-oiled machine.