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Preview: Denver Nuggets finish up season series with Utah Jazz

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One more time against Utah

NBA: Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets are coming off of laying a beat down on the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. Now, they face the Utah Jazz to wrap up their three game homestand and hopefully finish it with a winning record. In order to do that the Nuggets need to get back to their winning ways on defense. After holding teams under 90 points for three straight games (a stretch that includes a game against the Golden State Warriors) the Nuggets have now allowed opponents to score 107 or more for three straight games.

Luckily, playing the Jazz at home is an opportunity to get right back on track. There are only three teams in the NBA who average fewer points per game than Utah and the Jazz are also still trying to survive without their star center, and noted Nikola Jokic dominator, Rudy Gobert. Without him, Utah has been relying on Derrick Favors and rookie guard Donovan Mitchell to provide the punch on offense. Other than those two, the Jazz starters are mostly comprised of defense first players like Joe Ingles and Ricky Rubio while their bench is built on the backs of three solid, but not great, wings in Joe Johnson, Rodney Hood and Alec Burks. If the Nuggets come out and take care of business, this should be another W.

The Basics

Who: Utah Jazz (16-22) at Denver Nuggets (20-17)

When: 7:00PM

Where: The Can, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio AM 950

Rival blog: SLC Dunk

Position Nuggets Jazz Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Ricky Rubio Even
SG Gary Harris Donovan Mitchell Nuggets
SF Wilson Chandler Joe Ingles Jazz
PF Nikola Jokic Jonas Jerebko Nuggets
C Mason Plumlee Derrick Favors Jazz
Bench Will Barton, Trey Lyles, Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley, Trey Lyles, Kenneth Faried Joe Johnson, Rodney Hood, Ekpe Udoh, Alec Burks Nuggets

Injured players: Paul Millsap - out (wrist), Raul Neto - out (knee), Rudy Gobert - out (knee), Dante Exum - out (shoulder)

Key match up: Gary Harris vs Donovan Mitchell

It’s no secret that Mitchell has been one of the best rookies this season. In fact, he’s pretty solidly been the second best rookie this season behind Ben Simmons, and Simmons got a red shirt year in the NBA. Mitchell is an explosive two guard who finishes emphatically above the rim and shoots just under league average from the three point line. He’s not without his flaws of course. Mitchell isn’t the greatest of defenders (most rookies aren’t) and he’s not very efficient as a scorer yet. Still, most times he’ll have the advantage in the shooting guard matchup. Tonight however, he faces a top 5 SG in the NBA (don’t @ me) in Gary Harris. Coming off a night where he tied his career high 36 points, Harris should look to put the pressure on the rookie early and make him work on the defensive end to help slow down some of his high powered offense.

Key thing to watch for: Nuggets killers

Derrick Favors is the first person who comes to mind when I think of Jazz players who kill the Nuggets. He’s got the length, strength and athleticism to give Jokic fits so expect Favors to get a heavy dose of Mason Plumlee. Unfortunately, that means Jokic will primarily be forced to defend Jonas Jerebko who has been a Nugget killer as of late. While Jerebko isn’t blowing anyone away with his speed or athleticism, he’s a very good three point shooter and has enough quickness and ability to drive to give Jokic problems. The Favors/Jerebko combo has given the Nuggets fits in each of their previous three matchups this season, it’ll be interesting to see if Denver can finally get those two guys under control.

Opening thought: STIFFS NIGHT OUT IS TOMORROW!!!!

Come one, come all to the Celtic on Market St! We’re going to be hanging out down at the Celtic at 1400 Market St, Denver CO tomorrow night to watch the Nuggets take on the Sacramento Kings. Super Mascot Rocky and the Denver Nuggets Dancers will be there as well and they are coming with prizes that include memorabilia and game tickets so you do not want to miss out. Plus, the Celtic has no cover charge and great food and drink specials. So come on down and hang out with the Stiffs tomorrow night!