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Preview: Denver Nuggets start a road trip against the Detroit Pistons

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (24-21) for their second game in a row against the Detroit Pistons (11-35) as the two sides look to wrap up their brief two-game season series. Since losing in overtime on the road in February of 2020, the Nuggets have won four straight games, and they’ll be looking to make that five in a row tonight as they start a six-game road trip in Detroit.

Denver continues to tread water as they await the return of Jamal Murray. The team is 6-4 in their last 10 games. Since starting the season 9-5, they’re just 15-16 in their last 31 games, and they have won more than two games in a row just once during that time frame. With three of their next five games being on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz, they need a win tonight.

For Detroit, this season is still fully committed to rebuilding. Allowing young players like Saddiq Bey and Cade Cunningham to develop regardless of wins and losses is what this year is all about. While they have been struggling all year long, they’re 6-7 in their last 13 games after going 5-28 to start the season. The positive growth is evident based on those outcomes.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (24-21, 11-12 away) @ Detroit Pistons (11-35, 7-14 home)

When: 5:00 p.m. MST

Where: Little Caesars Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Detroit. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Expected Starting Lineups:

DET: PG Cade Cunningham, PG Cory Joseph, SG Hamidou Diallo, SF Saddiq Bey, C Isaiah Stewart

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

Injuries: Frank Jackson (conditioning), Jeff Green (quad), Markus Howard (illness)

Three Things to Watch

Isaiah Stewart

Earlier in the season, Nikola Jokic looked as though he was going to make a push for one of the All-Defense spots. Then, on Sunday, he allowed Isaiah Stewart to shoot a perfect 8-of-8 from the field. Denver won the game, so it slips under the radar, but Stewart had only scored in double digits twice in his previous 11 games. Both of those games were blowouts while this was close. Easy points add up at the end of the game.

Bench Guards

The Nuggets landed Bryn Forbes last week to give them more guard depth and some scoring off of the bench. Through two games, Forbes has not been afraid to put up shots, as he’s averaging 11 attempts per game. They also still have Austin Rivers, Facundo Campazzo and Markus Howard. Can the Nuggets get 20-30 functional minutes out of that quartet of players?

Non-Jokic Scoring

With Jokic, the other Nuggets’ players won’t be relied upon to be primary scorers, but they have to bring more to the table. The Pistons had four players score 18 points on Sunday. Outside of 34 from Jokic, no one on the Nuggets scored more than 14 points. That’s just simply not enough, especially against a Pistons’ team that is 24th in defensive rating and 29th in effective field goal percentage allowed. Put points on the board without forcing Jokic to do it all.