The Denver Nuggets bring their 2-0 record back to Ball arena to host a young Cleveland Cavaliers team. Unlike the preseason, the Nuggets have come out of the gates with intensity and production on both ends of the floor. Although it’s only two games into the season, the Nuggets lead the league in field goal percentage at 52%. Usually for Denver, when their shots are falling that helps perk up the defense which has proven to be the case again this year. Through two games they are holding opponents to 97 PPG which won’t last, but it is a very good sign early in the season.
All five Denver starters are averaging double-digits led by the MVP with 29.5 PPG. Will Barton also looks healthy and energized and statistically speaking, has been Denver’s best playmaker leading the team with 5.5 assists a game. It’s been a welcome sight to see Denver produce right out of the gate. If you remember last year, they began the season with a 1-5 record. The troubling aspect to that start is the two losses to the Kings in five games. This matchup poses a similar situation where Denver is the better team and they need to maintain their intensity to prove it tonight.
Who: Denver Nuggets vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
When: 7:00 PM MST
How to Watch: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough)
Three Things to Watch
Can PJ Dozier continue his consistent play?
I think one of the better signs for Denver has been the great play of PJ Dozier. He isn't putting up gaudy offensive numbers, but his play has been extremely efficient. It’s been evident he worked on his shot all offseason because he is shooting 60% from the field and 57% from three. So far he hasn't seemed to be forcing anything offensively, he is finding his open spots and converting them at a much higher rate than last season. He’s always solid on the defensive end so if he can continue to pair his good play on both ends, that will be exactly what Denver desperately needs off the bench
Will this be the breakout game for Michael Porter Jr?
Similar to PJ Dozier, MPJ hasn’t put up the impressive offensive stats we are used to but I think he is playing great so far. He’s playing winning basketball. If his shot isn't there he isn't forcing it, and I think he has moved without the ball really well compared to last season. He hasn't found his shot yet but he’s not doing anything to lose them the ballgame which is a great sign. He seems to be playing more disciplined on both ends, but tonight will be a great test for him because these are trap games. Against a team like Cleveland, players may think that is the game to put up 40 but that mentality might give you a loss. Look for MPJ to continue to play within the offense but also this could be the game where he catches fire.
Can the defense string three productive games in a row?
I think this has been the most impressive aspect of Denver’s 2-0 start. Coming into the season I thought Denver would be a bottom-half defensive team and I still think they will be, but this start has given hope for this team defensively. The players are playing well but the coaching has proven to be impactful. Last season, Phoenix killed Denver offensively and on opening night in a hostile environment, they only give up 98 points. The Nuggets have not allowed the opposition to score 100 points so far this season and if they can do it again tonight, that may give them the confidence to maintain steady defensive play throughout the season