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Preview: Denver Nuggets look to extend winning streak against Dallas Mavericks

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (18-16) are back in action tonight as they’re wrapping up their four-game road trip against the Dallas Mavericks (18-18) and looking to carry a four-game winning streak back home following two months of up-and-down play on a night-to-night basis. Denver currently leads the middle pack of teams of the Western Conference, and a win here would only help build that lead.

For Denver, this is somewhat of a revenge spot. In their previous meeting, Denver got blown out in the fourth quarter on the road to snap a six-game winning streak, and they haven’t been the same since. They entered the game 9-4, and they’re just 9-13 since. With a depleted roster due to injuries and players in the healthy and safety protocols, they need every win they can get.

For Dallas, they’ve been on their own sputtering stretch since knocking off the Nuggets. Following that game, they were 9-4, and they’ve gone 9-14 since with the seventh-worst win percentage in that span. They’re still missing multiple players to the league’s health and safety protocols, but they have Luka Doncic back in the lineup after he missed three weeks with an ankle injury.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (18-18, 10-10 away) @ Dallas Mavericks (18-18, 8-8 home)

When: 6:30 p.m. MST

Where: American Airlines Center

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 Dallas. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Mavs Moneyball

Expected Starting Lineups:

DAL: PG Luka Doncic, SG Jalen Brunson, SF Dorian Finney-Smith, PF Kristaps Porzingis, C Dwight Powell

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

Injuries: Vlatko Cancar (nose), Austin Rivers (thumb)

Three Things to Watch

Can Denver Play a Complete Game?

On Saturday night, Denver blew out the Houston Rockets on the road. The final score looked close, but Denver was playing the last guys on their roster in the fourth quarter which allowed the lead to shrink. However, Denver started the game slow, and it took them a bit to get in gear. They can’t do that every night because their shooting isn’t good enough to always carry them. Can they play four quarters against Dallas? If they had in the first meeting, Denver would have come out with a win.

Guarding Luka

Denver seems to always get a great Luka game whenever they match up. They can’t let that happen in this one, and it will likely be up to Austin Rivers to try and slow him down due to his size, as Aaron Gordon will be matched up with Kristaps Porzingis, although the team wouldn’t be completely out of line by starting JaMychal Green and pushing Rivers to the bench. This would allow for better size matchups, and Denver could throw Gordon, who has plenty of size to deal with Doncic, at him to try and wear him out with his size and physicality.

Who’s Going to be That Guy?

With all of the players being tossed into the covid protocols, these games are all seeming to be closer and closer no matter how good a superstar on one side or the other is. Everything seems to come down to one random guy making a play that puts his team over the top. Facundo Campazzo put up 22 points the other night en route to a career night. Who’s going to be the guy tonight for one side or the other?