The Denver Nuggets and the Detroit Pistons will face off tonight at Ball Arena. It will be the first of a two-game slate in which Denver will travel to Detroit on Tuesday. The Pistons have the second-worst record in the league at 11-34, and they have the least amount of wins on the road with only four. This Detroit team is clearly building for the future but they do have competitive talent on their roster right now. Cade Cunningham was the #1 pick in this year’s draft and produces well, scoring 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. They also have an electric forward in Saddiq Bey who can light up the scoring department.
The Nuggets are currently 3-2 on this homestand, so a loss to the Pistons tonight would be a disappointing end to a brief stay at Ball Arena. Although the Nuggets couldn't piece it together against the Jazz and the Grizzlies, their offense appears to have found its groove. In their last five games, they lead the NBA in scoring at 124.6 points per game while also leading in field goal percentage at 50.7%. Defensively, they have not been so impressive. Over their last five, they are giving up 115.8 points per game while allowing the league’s worst field goal percentage at 49.7%.
Who: Denver Nuggets (23-21, 12-9 home) vs Detroit Pistons (11-34, 4-20 away)
When: 6:00 PM MT
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: Detroit Bad Boys
Expected Starting Lineups:
DET: PG Cade Cunningham, SG Killian Hayes, SF Hamidou Diallo, PF Saddiq Bey, C Isaiah Stewart
DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic
Injuries: Jeff Green (day to day), JaMychal Green (day to day), Vlatko Cancar (out), Jerami Grant (out), Luka Garza (out), Frank Jackson (out), Kelly Olynek (out)
Bring back the defense
There once was a time when Denver had one of the best defenses overall but especially at home. Throughout this homestand, they have been one of the worst defenses in the NBA. They have given up 120+ points in three straight games, and have allowed their opponents to shoot 52.7% from the field on average. A matchup with the Pistons offers the defense a great opportunity to regain confidence and execution. Overall, Detroit is the second-worst scoring team in the NBA and on the road, they only score about 101 points per game. They are also not a great three-point shooting team at only 31.7% but they do have individuals who can light it up, so Denver cannot allow them to get comfortable from the perimeter.
Control the paint
This was one of the reasons for the loss against Memphis on Friday. They were only outscored by 10 points in that category, but the Grizzlies hurt them by getting to the line and crashing the offensive glass. Memphis went to the line an astounding 40 times and the Nuggets were lucky they hit only 25 of those attempts. They also outrebounded Denver by 11 and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, multiple coming late in the game. The Pistons are not as skilled in those categories but the Nuggets cannot let their guard slip against an inferior opponent. They have the advantage in the paint and in the rebounding category and dominating that area could prove crucial especially late.
Win the second half
We have seen an inability to do this countless times throughout the season, but it is very demoralizing against a team they should beat. At home, it is expected the Nuggets will begin the game with good energy and execution but it is more important to finish the game in that manner. The Pistons are not built to come from behind, so if the Nuggets can obtain a lead, the bench should work to increase it. That bench unit struggled against the Grizzlies as they outscored Denver 35-17. Bones Hyland and Facu Campazzo were both scoreless and combined to shoot 0-6 from the field. They are both streaky shooters, but a game like this will provide them opportunities to get back on track.