There is no time to celebrate the Denver Nuggets big win on national T.V. against a division rival on Tuesday as the have another big game on national T.V. against a division rival tonight. The Utah Jazz find their way to Denver tonight and will try to replicate the performance they had back in January when they handed the Nuggets their only division loss of the season thus far. However, the scenario isn’t quite the same as this time the contest is in Denver, where the Nuggets are 27-4.
Still, after a somewhat rocky start to the season the Jazz have found their groove. Sophomore scoring sensation Donovan Mitchell is coming off a 32 point performance and has been putting up the points in bunches lately. Rudy Gobert has supplanted Nikola Jokic as the most underrated player in the league and Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio and Jae Crowder round out one of the toughest defensive lineups in the league (though Crowder comes off the bench). Expect the crowd to be amped tonight for what should be another very exciting contest.
Who: Utah Jazz (34-26) at Denver Nuggets (42-18)
When: 8:30 PM MST
Where: The Can, Denver CO
How to watch/listen: TNT and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
Rival Blog: SLC Dunk
|PG||Jamal Murray||Ricky Rubio||Even|
|SG||Malik Beasley||Donovan Mitchell||Even|
|SF||Will Barton||Joe Ingles||Jazz|
|PF||Paul Millsap||Derrick Favors||Even|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Rudy Gobert||Even|
|Bench||Monte Morris, Mason Plumlee, Isaiah Thomas, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig||Jae Crowder, Royce O'Neal, Raul Neto, Kyle Korver||Nuggets|
Injured players: Trey Lyles - out (hamstring), Michael Porter Jr - out (back), Ricky Rubio - game time decision (hamstring), Tony Bradley - game time decision (knee), Dante Exum - out (ankle)
Key matchup: Malik Beasley vs Donovan Mitchell
No doubt, calling the Beasley/Mitchell matchup even is likely to ruffle some feathers in Salt Lake, but check the stats. Yes, across the board in simple counting stats Mitchell is going to come out on top but dive a little deeper and its fairly obvious that can be attributed to the 11 more minutes a game he gets on average and his 14% higher usage rate. Beasley is by far the more efficient shooter/scorer and he can also limit Mitchell’s scoring by making him work on defense. Beas is one of the best off-ball players the Nuggets have so he should make Mitchell chase him all over the court. Obviously, Donovan is one of those guys who can go off at any minute and does on a regular basis so Malik’s got his work cut out for him as well.
Key thing to watch for: emotional let down
The Nuggets are coming off of what many are calling their biggest victory of the season but as I said, they’ve got not time to relish in it. Tonight’s game, while not against the team directly behind them in the standings, is still a massive game against a very tough opponent. The Nuggets need to be ready for this game and I think they will, as the Jazz aren’t a team they would overlook. Still, coming off a late night national T.V. game against a division rival and going immediately into another exact same scenario is tough. We’ll see if the Nuggets can keep that mental edge over a 72 hour period.
Opening thought: chance to gain even more ground
The Golden State Warriors helped Denver out with a loss last night to get the Nuggets within a half game of the top seed. The Warriors will play again tonight and while their opponent, the Orlando Magic, don’t seem like much competition, the Magic are right in the thick of the playoff race and no doubt understand every game matters at this point. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Philadelphia 76ers in OKC tonight. It’s not all that far fetched for the Nuggets to regain the top position in the West tonight while also putting another game between them and the closest team in the division. Of course, it could equally go the opposite way and all the good vibes and hard work over the last two days will have vanished.