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Preview: Nuggets look to continue winning streak at home against Mavericks

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets were able to pick up a win in their first game following the All-Star break, holding on against Ja Morant and the resilient Memphis Grizzlies to cap off an interrupted road trip with a perfect 5-0 record.

Nikola Jokic was able to help deflect Morant’s layup on the Grizzlies possession, and the Nuggets held on for a 103-102 win. Tonight they’ll return to Ball Arena for the third matchup this season against Dallas, with the season series at one game apiece.

Jamal Murray will look to bounce against a team that is in the bottom third of the league in defense, after missing 13 of his 14 shots on Friday night. That broke a streak of games for Murray where he had finished with 20 or more points — against the Mavericks, he should be able to score over 20 points.

Will the Mavericks be rested enough to take on the Nuggets? Will Doncic be able to power his team to a win against a team they are battling against for playoff seeding? Tune in tonight to see.

The Basics

Who: Dallas Mavericks (19-17) vs Denver Nuggets (22-15)

When: 8:00 PM MT

Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO

How to Watch: NBA TV

Rival Blog: Mavs Moneyball

Potential Matchups

Untitled

POS DAL DEN EDGE
POS DAL DEN EDGE
PG Luka Doncic Monté Morris Mavericks
SG Josh Richardson Jamal Murray Nuggets
SF Dorian Finney-Smith Will Barton Nuggets
PF Maxi Kleber Michael Porter Jr. Even
C Kristaps Porzingis Nikola Jokic Nuggets
BENCH Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Willie Cauley-Stein, James Johnson, Trey Burke Facu Campazzo, PJ Dozier, Paul Millsap, Jamychal Green, Isaiah Hartenstein Even

Injuries: RJ Hampton, Gary Harris, JaMychal Green (out); Zeke Nnaji, Tyrell Terry (day-to-day)

Three Things to Watch For

Can the Nuggets win the rebounding battle? The Mavericks are not a team that attacks the offensive glass, with their 8.4 per game mark ranked 26th in the league. With Porzingis at center, you’d think they’d be a better defensive rebounding team, but Luka Doncic leads the team in that category. They are a team with a soft, fragile big man that rely on their entire team being committed to securing the ball after a missed shot. If Denver can attack the glass with Jokic, Porter Jr., and whichever bigs off the bench are healthy, that can help give them an edge over a team that can’t keep up with their normal rotation pieces.

Make bad shooters have bad shooting nights. If the Nuggets can win the defensive rebounding battle without having to flood the zone with help, that can help them stay true to shooters on the perimeter. The Mavericks are going to try to spread out the Nuggets defense and let Doncic work his magic one-on-one against his defender. When he’s able to set up teammates for easy shots, they can get in a rhythm and put games away. Let’s see if they can funnel the ball to Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and not let Tim Hardaway or Porzingis catch fire and beat Denver.

The Boban factor. Perhaps it’s just my opinion, but it always seems like Jokic can’t figure out how to defend/attack Boban Marjanovic. Maybe it’s the familiarity between the two players, but I’m always terrified of what Boban will do when the Nuggets have to go against him. I know it’s crazy, he’s only played 146 minutes this season, but he just seems to torment Denver.

Prediction

Denver Nuggets 120 - Dallas Mavericks 112