clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Preview: Jokic returns as Denver hosts Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks

The struggling Hawks come to Ball Arena as the Nuggets eye their fourth straight win

Atlanta Hawks v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets are riding the mile-high wave after a shorthanded win on Wednesday. Now, the Atlanta Hawks come to town who are normally a very dangerous team but they are struggling at the moment. They are losers of five straight and seven of their last eight games. What used to be a very potent offense last season is now scuffling. They are 19th in the league in PPG at 107, but Denver is 26th at 102 a game.

This could end up being a good ol’ fashion 90’s slugfest if both teams continue to struggle offensively. Although the Hawks don't share similar numbers to their previous season, they are a top 10 three-point shooting team so Denver has to stay focused on the perimeter. As we know, Denver has been extremely disappointing from deep so far this season as they are actually second-worst in the league at 30%. Look for defense and perimeter shooting to be at a premium in this game.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (7-4, 5-1 home) vs Atlanta Hawks (4-8, 1-7 away)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough) or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Peachtree Hoops

Expected Starting Lineups:

ATL: PG Trae Young, SG Kevin Huerter, SF Bogdan Bogdanovic, PF John Collins, C Clint Capela

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Vlatko Čančar (out), Michael Porter Jr. (out), Bogdan Bogdanovic (day to day), De’Andre Hunter (day to day)

Three Things to Watch

Three-point line

As previously stated, the Hawks are an efficient three-point shooting team and their guards can definitely light it up from deep. Trae Young is a guy you have to pick up at half court because he can launch anywhere. Defenders also needs to key on Huerter and Bogdanovic (if he plays) because those two are slippery and deadly from deep. I don’t think it’s important for Denver to make a lot of threes, but it’s essential to make the open and timely opportunities. The Nuggets are at home so clutch threes will have the crowd erupting and Denver can play off that advantage.

Who will be the first team to 100?

Whoever is the first to 100 might end up winning this game. This season, Denver rarely allows their opponents to eclipse the 100 mark yet they have trouble eclipsing that mark for themself. I think closing quarters will be huge in this game. The last two minutes of each quarter, Denver should be hyperfocused and energized to transfer that momentum into the next quarter. The Hawks can close quarters well because they can hit two or three quick threes which opens the floor and then hit Capela for a lob to end the quarter. If this happens, it’s imperative for Denver to trade baskets with them and enter the next quarter with intense defensive energy.

Can they stop the Young to Capela connection?

Last season, Denver struggled to defend point guard and center combinations such as this one but this is a new team. The Nuggets have been playing much better defense on the pick and roll and Jokic has been a huge part of that, so look for him to keep the Capela lobs at bay. I thought the perimeter defense of Denver was excellent for the majority of that Pacers game, and they need to bring it again with an offense that can spread the floor as the Hawks do. When they open the floor and hit shots, it opens the pick and roll action between Young and Capela because defenders want to stay glued on their man at the perimeter. As long as the Nugget defenders keep flying around, communicating, and being physical inside, their defense should have another stellar performance.