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Preview: Nuggets look to even season series against Hawks

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The Nuggets look to get revenge for a loss to the Hawks earlier this season while also avoid a losing streak after dropping a road game against the Wizards.

Atlanta Hawks v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets, fresh off a humiliating performance against the Washington Wizards, will travel to Atlanta as their road trip continues for a game against Trae Young and the Hawks.

The Nuggets are 1-2 so far on their five game road trip, with losses against the Houston Rockets, where they were outscored 38-15 in the fourth quarter, and the Wizards, where they allowed the bench to score 92 points.

“We’ve been humbled before,” Mike Malone said to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I don’t know. Maybe our guys look at the standings and think we’re pretty good. What have we done?”

“I just didn’t think we respected our opponent,” said Jamal Murray, again to Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Tonight is an opportunity for this young team to show that they are able to learn from some of the adversity they’ve brought upon themselves this season. The last time they played the Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young made the Nuggets look like they had never defended a small point guard that could shoot. Young had 42 points and 11 assists in the first matchup this season, and scored 41 points in the game prior to tonight.

One thing is for certain — the Nuggets will have to play with more pride and effort than they have lately, or they’re going to limp into Dallas with their tail between their legs.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (24-11) vs Atlanta Hawks (8-28)

Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

When: 5:30 PM MT

How to Watch: Altitude, NBA League Pass

Rival Blog: Peach Tree Hoops

Matchups

Nuggets vs Hawks

POS DEN ATL EDGE
POS DEN ATL EDGE
PG Jamal Murray Trae Young Even
SG Gary Harris Kevin Huerter Nuggets
SF Will Barton DeAndre Hunter Nuggets
PF Paul Millsap Bruno Fernando Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Damian Jones Nuggets
BENCH Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Jerami Grant, Michael Porter Jr, Mason Plumlee Alex Len, DeAndre Bembry, Vince Carter, Allen Crabbe, Brandon Goodwin Nuggets

Injuries: John Collins (probable - back), Jabari Parker (probable - illness), Cam Reddish (probable - wrist)

Three Things to Watch

Execute. The Nuggets oftentimes look like they’ve never heard the term “scouting report,” let alone read one in the last week. Whether they’re letting Ish Smith drive into the paint instead of forcing him to shoot or reaching in to foul James Harden when he drops his dribble low on the perimeter, I swear the last few games they’ve played just some really dumb basketball. No NBA team can win games when they self-inflict as much damage on themselves as the Nuggets have lately. Some people may want to blame Michael Malone, but it’s up to the players to do what the coaches tell them when they’re on the court. It starts up top, with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, setting a tone by playing up to the responsibilities that the franchise has placed on them as franchise players, and then follows with the starters. They need to play with a sense of pride, and respect for their opponent. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that.

Don’t take bad shots. The Nuggets dug themselves into a hole against the Wizards by jacking up some truly terrible shots. It’s hard to make shots when the shots that are being taken aren’t in rhythm, are off balance, or are against tight defense. Possession after possession, the Nuggets continued to take horrific shots. If they can’t score against the Hawks defense, that will be extremely discouraging.

Vince Carter. The ageless wonder became the first player in NBA history to play in four decades when he took the court against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. I’m old enough to remember reading about the Half Man, Half Amazing player out of North Carolina in Sports Illustrated for Kids, and hanging a poster of him flying in for a baseline dunk on my wall. It really is amazing that he’s still playing basketball in the year 2020. We don’t have flying cars or teleporters or phasers or self-driving cars ( ... wait), but we do have Vince Carter flying through the air dunking, and that’s just fine by me.

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Prediction

Nuggets 113 - Hawks 118. Go ahead, lose again to the Hawks. You can’t hurt me if I’m already dead.