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Preview: Denver Nuggets close out road trip against Dallas Mavericks

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Nuggets close out their travels against one of the brightest young stars in the league

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets, Game 5 Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets close out a five game road trip tonight in Dallas against the Mavericks. It’s been an up and down trip thus far with the Nuggets an even two and two. It will be the second time the Nuggets face the Mavericks this season. Dallas got the better of them in the last outing so Denver should be looking for revenge in addition to a strong close to their road trip.

The Mavs are led by their burgeoning young star Luka Doncic who has inserted himself into the MVP conversation despite being in only his second season. After a rookie season that saw plenty of individual success for Doncic, he’s now translated it to team success, leading Dallas to one of the best records in the west. Some of that success is also due to Kristaps Porzingis making his return to the court for the Mavericks but fortunately for Denver, the Zinger is out tonight.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (25-11) at Dallas Mavericks (23-13)

When: 5:30 PM MST

Where: American Airlines Center. Dallas, TX.

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival Blog: Mavs Moneyball

Projected Matchups

Position Denver Nuggets Utah Jazz Advantage
Position Denver Nuggets Utah Jazz Advantage
PG Monte Morris Mike Conley Jazz
SG Torrey Craig Donovan Mitchell Jazz
SF Michael Porter Jr. Royce O'Neale Nuggets
PF Paul Millsap Joe Ingles Even
C Nikola Jokic Rudy Gobert Nuggets
Bench PJ Dozier, Keita Bates-Diop, Jerami Grant, Bol Bol, Mason Plumlee Emmanuel Mudiay, Jordan Clarkson, Georges Niang, Tony Bradley Even

Injured players: Paul Millsap - probable (quad), Will Barton - out (personal), Bol Bol - out (foot), Kristaps Porzingis - out (knee), Ryan Broekhoff - out (leg)

Key matchup: Gary Harris vs Luka Doncic

You have to imagine that with the success he had defending Luka in their last meeting Gary will get another crack at him tonight. While the Mavericks showed last time that they are capable of winning even when Luka has a bad night there’s no doubt that he is the straw that stirs their drink, especially with Kristaps out. The Nuggets will need another A+ performance out of Harris if they’re going to get the win tonight. They also shouldn’t expect much out of Gary on the offensive end as containing the third highest scorer in the league is likely to take all his energy.

Key thing to watch for: rotation

Will Barton is attending his cousin’s funeral so he is out tonight. That’ll throw a wrench in the Nuggets regular rotation. Dallas plays pretty small so it won’t be a surprise if Torrey Craig gets the nod to start and plays big minutes. Coach Michael Malone could also go the other direction. Instead of adjusting to what the Mavericks are doing he could force them to adjust to the Nuggets by inserting 6’10” rookie Michael Porter Jr. into the lineup and forcing the Mavs to try and cover him with an undersized forward.

Opening thought: big statement game tonight

The Nuggets have a chance to end this road trip with a winning record, a vast improvement over their 1-3 effort on their last road trip. Of course, they could have already had a winning record on this trip locked up if they had just taken care of business against the Washington Wizards G-League team but they didn’t. The Nuggets have a chance to make a statement tonight with a win. They can show the Wizards game, and the home loss to the Mavs earlier this year, were just blips on an otherwise successful radar.