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Preview: Nuggets look to win on road against Mavericks

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The Mavericks are doing their darnedest to lose, and the Nuggets, well, shoot, they’re just fixing to help them accomplish that goal.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Denver is on a five game road winning streak as they head to Dallas, looking to keep pace with the other Western Conference playoff teams, while Dallas is looking to keep pace with the other Western Conference tanking teams.

Amazingly, the Nuggets are on a five-game road winning streak, which makes the fact that they only have 11 road wins this season even more incredible. They have not been good on the road this year, but playing against a team like Dallas, which, it can’t be stated enough, is actively trying to lose games, should help them in that area.

The Nuggets have won two of three against Dallas so far this season, and the last two have been decided by a single possession difference. I swear, if Denver only manages to win 111-109, I’m going to be just as mad as Michael Malone.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (35-28, 11-19 Away) vs Dallas Mavericks (19-45, 12-21 Home)

When: 6:30 PM MST

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

How to watch/listen: Altitude and KKSE Altitude Radio AM950

Rival blog: Mavs Moneyball

Lineups

Position
Nuggets
Mavericks
Edge
PG
Jamal Murray
Dennis Smith Jr.
Nuggets
SG
Gary Harris
Yogi Ferrell
Nuggets
SF
Wilson Chandler
Harrison Barnes
Mavericks
PF
Paul Millsap
Dwight Powell
Nuggets
C
Nikola Jokic
Dirk Nowitzki
Nuggets
Bench
Devin Harris, Will Barton, Richard Jefferson, Juancho Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee, Trey Lyles
Doug McDermott, JJ Barea, Kyle Collinsworth, Nerlens Noel, Maxi Kleber, Salah Mejri
Nuggets

Injuries: Tyler Lydon (out - knee); Wes Matthews Jr (questionable - hip), Dorian Finney-Smith (out - knee)

Three things to watch

Which team can be the bigger D? Defense still matters in the NBA, even for the Nuggets, and whichever team is able to get stops is going to have an easy time winning this game. The Nuggets need to make an effort to get the ball out of the hands of Mavericks players that are capable of doing things like dribbling and shooting and into the hands of players like Dwight Powell, Kyle Collinsworth, and Dennis Smith Jr, for example. Let those guys shoot wide open jumpers, or ease them into drives to the rim where they can try to score over a defender. Please don’t go leaving guys like Yogi Ferrell or Dirk Nowitzki open on the perimeter, or let J.J. Barea drive unimpeded to the rim. It’s not that hard to defeat Dallas, don’t give them a chance.

Jokic triple-double coming? Jokic had a triple-double the last time the Nuggets played the Mavericks, and if they’re going to roll with the same starting lineup they used against the Pelicans, they is not going to be a ton of defensive stoppers on the floor in the first quarter. Jokic got a triple-double by halftime against the Bucks - what if he was able to do it by the end of the first quarter???

Regardless of when he gets there, the offense shouldn’t have a hard time scoring tonight. They are fresh off a game where they knocked down 19 3-pointers against the Cavaliers. The Mavericks have even less ability to defend the rim, so if Jokic can get the offense rocking and rolling, there should be ample opportunities for shots at the rim and wide open 3-point attempts. Bury the Mavericks early, and take the fourth quarter off.

Let’s close out a game, eh boys? Don’t mess with Texas, and with the Mavericks, don’t blow a 15 point lead! They’ve been up by double-digits in their last two games, against the Grizzlies and the Cavaliers, and both times, the Nuggets have let their opponent make it a one-possession game. Unacceptable!

Their goal should be to have a 15 point lead at halftime, a 25 point lead at the end of the third quarter, and win by at least 10 points. Let’s see Juancho Hernangomez get some minutes, let’s see Malik Beasley be aggressive on offense and defense, let’s see some point-forward play from Richard Jefferson!

Prediction

Denver Nuggets 124 - Dallas Mavericks 98.