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Preview: Nuggets look to stay hot against Suns

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The Nuggets will look to pick up another conference win against the struggling Suns.

Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Are you familiar with how pilots train to overcome G-Force?

Training facilities build a centrifuge with a cockpit on the end of an arm, then spin it in a circle, increasing the G-Force they feel so they can learn what it will feel like when they’re piloting a jet.

Pilots can’t be unprepared to fly a plane and perform evasive maneuvers, actions that will save their life and the lives of their fellow soldiers, without undergoing a little pressure.

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For the Nuggets, this past week has probably felt a little bit like they’re experiencing 5 G’s of G-Force, just getting crushed as they spin in circles. While they were able to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz, with the latter win coming in part to the heroic contributions of just seven healthy players, they’re probably looking forward to the All-Star break that is just three games away.

With tonight’s game against the Suns, the game on Monday against the Spurs, and the game on Wednesday against the Lakers, the Nuggets have a chance to finish out the unofficial first half of the season with a nice win streak that can give them a boost to start the second half of the season. Here’s what you need to know for tonight’s game.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (36-16) vs Phoenix Suns (20-32)

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona

When: 7:00 PM MT

How to Watch: Altitude, NBA League Pass

Rival Blog: Bright Side of the Sun

Projected Matchups

Nuggets vs Lakers

POS DEN LAL EDGE
POS DEN LAL EDGE
PG Jamal Murray LeBron James Lakers
SG Gary Harris Avery Bradley Even
SF Torrey Craig Danny Green Nuggets
PF Jerami Grant Anthony Davis Lakers
C Nikola Jokic JaVale McGee Nuggets
BENCH Monte Morris, P.J. Dozier, Jordan McRae, Keita Bates-Diop, Paul Millsap Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard Even

Injuries: Everyone not listed above for both teams are injured. Even the ones playing are banged up.

Three things to watch for

MASH. Can you hear that? That’s the sound of the medical copters dropping off another wounded basketball player tonight in Phoenix. There are fourteen players listed on the injury report between the two teams. Maybe they can just agree to have a nice, casual game, and then try real hard for the last eight minutes of the game — like the All-Star game, but between a playoff team and a team on track for another lottery pick. Keep your fingers crossed that no one else on either team suffers an injury.

Jokic-ball. The Nuggets game against the Jazz was proof that if you put four players around Jokic that will give great effort on defense, and buy into an offense with Jokic as the primary facilitator, they’re going to have a shot every single night. The Nuggets were able to get easy looks against one of the best defensive teams in the league — all they’ll need to do against Phoenix is commit to that same offensive mindset, and they should have success on offense. Avoid foul trouble, screen, cut, and most importantly, knock down open shots when you get them.

Pressure Booker. Devin Booker didn’t make the All-Star game, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t producing at an All-Star level. He’s a very talented player, and the Nuggets will need to be able to check the Suns best offensive threat. If Gary Harris and Torrey Craig can limit Craig, the Nuggets should coast to an easy win. But when has anything this season come easy?