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Preview: Denver Nuggets face off with Utah Jazz for Game 3

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Momentum will be up for grabs today

1994 Western Conference Semifinals Game 7: Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets find themselves coming off an NBA playoff butt whooping at the hands of the Utah Jazz. After narrowly escaping game one behind the heroics of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic while overcoming a 57 point scoring outburst from Donovan Mitchell, the Nuggets let big runs in the second and third quarters in Game 2 be their downfall. Also the Jazz shot nearly 52% from the floor and 45% from three as there was little stopping them to speak of.

The one positive for the Nuggets in Game 2 was the performance of Michael Porter Jr, on the offensive side at least. After a tough game one he bounced back with twenty-eight points which included six of nine shooting from three. Outside of him though there was little to celebrate. Murray could not repeat his performance, whereas his counterpart in Mitchell had another spectacular one. No doubt the Nuggets are going to be looking for some payback today.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (1-1) vs Utah Jazz (1-1)

When: 2:00 PM MDT

Where: The Bubble. Orlando, FL.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. TNT, League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Sneak into the bubble with an Adam Silver mask. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.

Projected Matchups

Position Nuggets Pacers Advantage
Position Nuggets Pacers Advantage
PG Monte Morris Malcolm Brogdon Pacers
SG Jamal Murray Justin Holiday Nuggets
SF Will Barton Doug McDermott Even
PF Michael Porter Jr. Domantas Sabonis Pacers
C Nikola Jokic Myles turner Nuggets
Bench P.J. Dozier, Zeke Nnaji, Isaiah Hartenstein, Vlatko Cancar T.J. McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner, Aaron Holiday Pacers

Injured players: Will Barton - out (knee), Gary Harris - out (hip), Vlatko Cancar - out (foot), Mike Conley Jr. - probable (self-isolating)

Key matchup: Mike Conley Jr. vs Jamal Murray

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Conley will make his return in all likelihood in this afternoon’s game after missing the first two as he returned from attending the birth of his child. He made things difficult on Murray in the beginning of the seeding game before Jamal broke out late and overall Mike is known as a strong point guard defender. While the integration of Conley into this Jazz lineup has been clunky at times over this season, it is undoubtedly an upgrade to get him back and have his defensive prowess to throw at Murray. Jamal meanwhile will be looking to bounce back from a disappoint (by his standards at least) game 2.

Key thing to watch for: how Denver decides to guard Donovan Mitchell

In game one the Nuggets played Mitchell pretty straight up. They elected to go for the drop when it came to pick and roll coverage in game one and that, uh, did not work. In game two the strategy was to blitz Mitchell and force him to give up the ball and that, uh, did not work. Torrey Craig avoided foul trouble in game 2 and was strong on Mitchell, particularly in the first half, but Donovan still ended up with thirty points and a ridiculous shooting clip while getting everyone else going early in the game to trigger the Jazz rout. Meanwhile Craig scored zero points. Coach Michael Malone is running out of time to figure out how to at least slow Mitchell down, it will be interesting to see what wrinkle he throws at him today.

Opening thought: it’s too late for talk, it’s time to win

Monte Morris opined this week that the Nuggets “know they are the better team” after the game two loss. Yeah, well, through two games they haven’t been. It’s that exact type of nonchalant, don’t worry about it, we got this attitude that led to so many losses to inferior teams during the regular season. The Nuggets may very well be the more talented team in this series, but they’ve been outplayed and are an 8 second violation away from being down 0-2. Time to put up or shut up. Game 3 will swing the momentum to one team’s side. If the Nuggets lose suddenly their backs are against the wall going into Game 4. If they truly believe they are the better team then they need to make a statement today. On the court. Not in press conferences after getting their ass kicked for 48 minutes.