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Preview: Nuggets host the Detroit Pistons in a one-game homestand

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The Nuggets are back in Denver for a date with the Pistons

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off of a 3-1 East coast road trip, the Denver Nuggets are back home for a quick pit stop before hitting the road once more later this week. While a back-to-back at Houston and Oklahoma City awaits, first Denver will play host to Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons.

The Nuggets are firmly a top playoff seed in the West, but at 37-36 the Pistons are clinging on to a lower spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit got the best of the Nuggets in their prior matchup in February, though the Nuggets were without Paul Millsap, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. All three will be playing this time around, and with the game being played within the comforting confines of Pepsi Center the Nuggets should be able to nab their 50th win of the year.

The Basics

Who: Detroit Pistons (37-36) at Denver Nuggets (49-23)

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

When: 7:00 PM MT

How to watch: Altitude

Rival blog: Detroit Bad Boys

What to Watch

Nikola Jokic vs. Andre Drummond. This matchup at center can be defined as brain vs. brawn. Jokic is a cerebral floor general, while Drummond is a physical specimen. Jokic is the best rebounder in Denver, but Andre Drummond is the best rebounder in the NBA, grabbing 15.4 boards per game. Drummond gave Jokic fits in the last match up, going for 27 and 12 in the Pistons blowout win. Jokic will have his hands full once again, but with more weapons at his disposal should be able to continue his trend of strong performances.

Soft Starts and a 4th Quarter Team. One item to keep an eye on as the team gears up for the playoffs is the stark contrast between Denver’s first and fourth quarters. It is not uncommon for the Nuggets to get off to a slow start, especially against inferior competition, then having to dig out of a hole. Defense is a big cause - the Nuggets are 24th in the league in defensive rating in the first quarter, for whatever reason not turning up the intensity until later on in the game. Compare that to the fourth quarter, wherein the Nuggets have the best defensive rating.

It’s great that Denver is so good in the fourth, but allowing teams to jump out to early leads isn’t the best habit with only 10 games left in the regular season. A complete game from the Nuggets tonight would be a great confidence booster, especially after laying a huge egg in Indiana on Sunday.