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Preview: Nuggets host Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in playoff rematch

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Denver takes on Utah in a much-anticipated division matchup

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets are back in action tonight as they host Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz for the first time this season. The Jazz are no strangers - Denver swept the regular season series last year before ultimately defeating Utah in Game 7 of the first round, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in probably the most memorable playoff series of last year.

Utah is riding a four-game win streak and appears to be in midseason form with Mitchell leading the offense and center Rudy Gobert anchoring the defense. Sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic is back in the lineup after missing the bubble and Derrick Favors is back in the picture after returning to Utah in free agency. The Jazz are always a well-rounded and well-coached team and will present a challenge for the Nuggets who look better but are still figuring some things out. With a win tonight, Denver will be above .500 for the first time all season - better late than never.

The Essentials

Who: Utah Jazz (8-4) at Denver Nuggets (6-6)

When: 6:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up on Zoom. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: SLC Dunk

Projected Lineups

Position Nuggets Jazz
Position Nuggets Jazz
PG Jamal Murray Mike Conley
SG Gary Harris Donovan Mitchell
SF Will Barton Bojan Bogdanovic
PF Paul Millsap Royce O'Neal
C Nikola Jokic Rudy Gobert
Bench Monte Morris, Isaiah Hartenstein, Facu Campazzo, PJ Dozier Jordan Clarkson, Derrick Favors, Joe Ingles, Georges Niang

What to Watch

Nikola Jokic vs. Rudy Gobert

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s no doubt that Murray and Mitchell’s scoring outbursts were the story of the playoff series, but the duel at center was just as critical. Gobert is a perennial DPOY candidate and makes life difficult for just about anyone in the paint; Jokic has to be an exception to that rule at this point. The Joker averaged 26.3 points and shot 47.8% from three in the first round and hit the series winning shot over Gobert in Game 7. Jokic has taken things up a notch so far this year, averaging a triple-double through 12 games and making a strong case for MVP consideration. He’ll certainly look to get the best of Gobert once again.

Jamal Murray vs. Donovan Mitchell

The duel between Murray and Mitchell in the first round was both historic and extremely entertaining. I would be surprised if Mitchell didn’t have this game circled on his calendar after averaging 36.3 points but still coming up short. Mitchell is still a potent scoring threat - he’s averaging 23.6 points per game and shooting nearly 40% from deep. There’s no doubt he’ll try to win this matchup. Murray is quietly having a great year as well, averaging 19.5 points of his own, a career high.

Neither have scored a 40 point game yet this season after they each did it three times in that series. Will tonight be another must-see TV shootout between these two?