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Preview: Nuggets face Pistons in makeup game

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This game marks the return of Mason Plumlee, a former Denver Nugget who will play his first game in Denver after signing with the Detroit Pistons during the offseason.

Detroit Pistons v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets will face off against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, playing a game that was originally scheduled for February 1, but was postponed due to Covid-19 contact tracing with the Pistons.

Due to the Covid-19 protocols, the Pistons would not have had eight players they would have been able to suit up for their game against the Nuggets. My question — would it really have made much of a difference?

The Pistons will look a little different than the first time they landed in Denver this season. They bought out the contract of their former star forward Blake Griffin, who suffered through having to be on the Detroit Pistons for the last three years, and an assortment of injuries. The Pistons have won 10 of their 29 games since that date, and are coming off a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, a young team that is definitely not trying to win games at this point of the season.

The Nuggets look different too, having upgraded their forward position by trading for Aaron Gordon, who looks like Steve Rogers after being administered the super soldier serum, and has played like a superhero since arriving in Denver.

He good!

The Nuggets new starting lineup is incinerating teams, treating opposing defenses like Mount Vesuvius treated the citizens of Pompeii. They’re outscoring opposing lineups by 0.3 points per possession, which adds up fast and if sustained would be one of the best starting lineups ever.

It makes Nuggets fans wonder ... what if Mason Plumlee had stayed on a discount to help stabilize the bench? You know the saying, if “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts, wouldn’t it be a merry Christmas? On to the important things.

The Basics

Who: Detroit Pistons (15-35) vs Denver Nuggets (31-18)

When: 7:00 PM MDT

Where: Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado

How to Watch: Altitude, limited in-person attendance

Rival Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Projected Lineups

Projected Lineups

POS DET DEN EDGE
POS DET DEN EDGE
PG Saben Lee Jamal Murray Nuggets
SG Josh Jackson Will Barton Nuggets
SF Jerami Grant Michael Porter Jr. Nuggets
PF Saddiq Bey Aaron Gordon Nuggets
C Mason Plumlee Nikola Jokic Nuggets
BENCH Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart, Frank Jackson, Killian Hayes, Dennis Smith Jr., Cory Joseph, Tyler Cook Facu Campazzo, Monte Morris, PJ Dozier, JaMychal Green, Paul Millsap, JaVale McGee Nuggets

Injuries: Wayne Ellington (day-to-day, competing for Jeopardy guest host). Rodney McGruder (out - waiting for cable service call), Mason Plumlee (day-to-day, analyzing Drew Barrymore’s accent in Ever After), Jahlil Okafor (out - bit into the coconut-filled chocolate in an assorted flavors box, nasty!)

Three Things to Watch For

Can the Nuggets stop the Pistons offense? This is a team with zero point guards that have both a) experience and b) talent. I’m half-surprised that Emmanuel Mudiay hasn’t wound up in Detroit. The Pistons team was outscored by Julius Randle in the first quarter of the Knicks-Pistons game a few days ago. They did just drop 132 points on the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, with seven players finishing with double-digit points. Unfortunately for the Pistons, the Nuggets aren’t the Thunder.

Can the Nuggets bench score? We know the Nuggets starters should be able to stay under 30 minutes each tonight, and the team can comfortably win. Will the starters allow that to happen, or will they blow a lead and force the starters to play extra minutes? Only time will tell!

Is this a trap game? It could be! The Nuggets need to make sure to not let a bunch of young, terribly inexperienced players get the better of them. Stay focused, don’t turn the ball over, and leave them flummoxed by simple actions like cutting to the rim when the center has the ball.

Prediction

Denver Nuggets 130 - Detroit Pistons 102.