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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to take down Atlanta Hawks

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Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets are coming off of a pair of big wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves, and, on Tuesday, they prepare to do battle with the beaten-up Atlanta Hawks. Due to multiple injuries and a suspension, the Hawks’ rotation looks much different than it was expected to coming into the season.

For Denver, they’ve been riding center Nikola Jokic the past few games as he’s finally come to life. He’s averaging 23 points, eight rebounds and 6.5 assists over the past two games. While the team doesn’t need him to continue to carry a load this heavy, this shows that he’s still able to do it, which is good as it was under some debate after the first few games.

The Nuggets are tied for the conference lead at 7-2, and, if they’re able to take care of business tomorrow, they can push Los Angeles Lakers to maintain their pace. Atlanta has the firepower to do damage against the Nuggets, but their defense has been their strength so far this year. It will be a battle of two strengths on Tuesday night in Denver.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (7-2, 3-1 home) vs Atlanta Hawks (3-6, 1-2 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Pepsi Center

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Peachtree Hoops

Expected Starting Lineups:

ATL: PG Trae Young, SG De’Andre Hunter, SF Cam Reddish, PF Jabari Parker, C Alex Len

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Gary Harris, SF Will Barton, PF Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Vince Carter (personal) Questionable, Allen Crabbe (knee) Questionable, De’Andre Hunter (shoulder) Day-to-Day, Chandler Parsons (knee) Out, Evan turner (Achilles) Out, Bol Bol (foot) out, Jamal Murray (foot) Day-to-Day, John Collins (suspension) Out

Three Things to Watch

Can Jamal Murray slow down Trae Young?

Last season, Trae Young was one of the hottest players in the NBA after the All-Star Break. This year, he is lighting it up, and, unless they crossmatch Murray and Harris, it will be Murray’s job to slow down Young. Young is averaging over 26 points per game, and a lot of it is coming from 3-point range, as he’s averaging 8.6 attempts per game. If Murray gets matched up with Young, he needs to give his full effort to slow him down. Otherwise, Young can get Stephen Curry hot in a hurry.

Does the offense get rolling?

In the Nuggets’ first game of the season, they did their damage mostly from 3-point range. That has subsided somewhat, as they’re now just 14th in the NBA in 3-point percentage. They have the size, and, specifically, the cutters to take advantage of a Hawks team that ranks in the bottom 10 in 2-point attempts allowed and made. If Jokic can get rolling from up top early, that will open up lanes for drives and cuts by the guards and wings.

Jabari Parker can cause issues

After John Collins was suspended for 25 games, Jabari Parker was popped into the starting lineup, and he’s been a force on the offensive end. He’s averaging 17.6 points per game, and he’s shooting 56.9 percent from the field. His athleticism can give Paul Millsap struggles off the dribble, especially if the Hawks, who are second in the NBA in 2-point shooting percentage, force him to help inside. Young is the main player to watch, and Parker is next in that pecking order.