The Denver Nuggets return to Phoenix to take on the Suns for the second time this season, but now they are without three of their best players. The last time these teams faced the Nuggets came out victorious 110-98 on opening night. The Nuggets are fresh off of two bad losses at home to the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers, a loss tonight could mean the Nuggets fall into 7th in the West.
The Suns have been playing great basketball after a rough start to the season, they are currently 12-3 and are on an 11 game win streak after consecutive wins versus the Dallas Mavericks. However, one of the Sun’s three losses is against the Nuggets on opening night. The Nuggets have proven they can beat the Suns in their arena already so let’s see if they can do it again. The Suns have very few new players this year so we can expect many of the same lineups from their playoff rotation last year.
The Nuggets start a two-game road trip tonight and are off to Portland for their next game against the Trail-Blazers on Tuesday the 23rd. The Suns are finishing their 3rd straight game at home and will go on an Eastern Conference road trip for the next week after a stop in San Antonio on Monday the 22nd.
Who: Denver Nuggets (9-7) at Phoenix Suns (12-3)
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
When: 6:00pm MT
Where to Watch: Altitude Sports, Bally Sports Arizona, NBA League Pass (Best of luck)
Rival Blog: Bright Side Of The Sun
Phoenix: PG- Chris Paul, SG- Devin Booker, SF Miles Bridges, PF Jae Crowder, C- DeAndre Ayton
Denver: PG- Monte Morris, SG- Austin Rivers, SF Will Barton, PF Aaron Gordon, C-Jeff Green
Phoenix: Frank Kaminsky, Abdel Nader, and Dario Saric are all out
Denver: Michael Porter Jr., Zeke Nnaji, and Jamal Murray are all out. Nikola Jokic is questionable
Three Things To Watch:
Jeff Green’s Defense:
Jeff Green will be a vital part of the Nuggets winning this game. He will need to defend the paint aggressively as the Suns like to drive into the paint a lot. The Sun’s offense stems from pick and rolls and either finding the open guy or shooting the midrange over the center as he’s dropping to the rim. If Jeff Green can defend the pick and roll with a big traditional center at a decent rate, he can turn this game in the Nugget’s favor. Green will also have his hands full on the glass, DeAndre Ayton has been averaging 12.2 rebounds and 3.2 offensive boards a game.
Will Barton Vs. Mikal Bridges:
Will Barton has been playing out of this world recently there's just no other way to put it. But on the other end so has Mikal Bridges, while it might not be to the level of Thrill’s performances he’s been great on both sides of the court. Mikal is known for his defense primarily but he is becoming quite the offensive talent. He is fresh off of a great showing in last year’s playoffs, currently averaging 14.1 points on 55% shooting. Mikal Bridges led the Suns with 19 points on 7/7 shooting in their previous game. I imagine that Bridges will be guarding Thrill for the majority of the game but I think that PJ Dozier will be on Mikal during his time on the court. I’m most excited to see what Will Barton can do against a borderline elite wing defender though.
The Bench As A Whole:
It’s no secret that Denver’s bench unit has not been great to open the season off, specifically the shooting. But during the Nuggets’ last game versus the Bulls, Facu Campazzo shot 4/5 from three after a very rough start to the season. While I doubt he’ll be able to replicate that again the Nuggets are gonna need someone to step up. The Sun’s bench is not particularly great at defense so when they are on the court the Nuggets shouldn’t struggle to find shots, it’s just a matter of making them. We are due for a good Bones, PJ, or JaMychal game. We could even see Bol Bol get some run if the bench is struggling.