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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to take down Heat

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Denver Nuggets v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets (4-2) are at home Tuesday night for a matchup with the Miami Heat (5-1). The Heat, behind a collective effort of their young players and quality veterans, have been heating up as of late. The Nuggets have been riding their defense while their offense is working to hit shots.

The Heat ran up 129 points on the Houston Rockets in their last game, and that number likely would have been higher, but they pulled their starters early after going out to a huge 46-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. Denver can’t afford to fall in that hole, which is a realistic possibility with how their offense has been struggling to score points.

Miami was expected to be in the middle of their conference, and they’re currently second in the East right now. Meanwhile, Denver is sixth in the West, and this will be a major win for them this early in the season to see how they stack up against one of the league’s best teams.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (4-2, 1-1 home) vs Miami Heat (5-1, 2-1 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 Altiude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Hot Hot Hoops

Expected Starting Lineups:

SAC: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Jimmy Butler, SF Duncan Robinson, PF Bam Adebayo, C Meyers Leonard

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

Injuries: Justise Winslow (back) Day-to-Day, Derrick Jones Jr. (groin) Questionable, KZ Okpala (achilles) Out, Bol Bol (foot) out, Will Barton (toe) Questionable

Three Things to Watch

Slow the game down

Against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Nuggets got ran off the floor because they couldn’t keep up with their pace on defense, and they weren’t scoring points on the other end of the floor. The Heat are sixth in pace, and they get a lot of shots up. Denver has to slow the game down to keep Miami from running on them. Their gameplay has been slower and more methodical this year. They need to force Miami to play their game rather than getting into a running match.

Avoid fouling

Miami’s high rate of pace combined with their aggressiveness towards the rim has resulted in them getting to the free throw line a lot. They’re second in the NBA in free throw, meanwhile, the Nuggets are just 12th in that area. Denver is 11th in the NBA in fouls per game, but they’ll be tested a lot by power forward Bam Adebayo, who’s fifth in the NBA in free throw attempts per game.

Hit open shots

The Nuggets are getting 14.2 wide open (classified as the nearest defender being 6+ feet away) 3-point shots per game. That’s great, but they’re only shooting 32.9 percent on those shots, which is the 22nd-ranked mark in the NBA. When you get open looks, you have to knock them down, and, if this Heat team is hitting their open shots, Denver will need to hit their’s to keep up.