The Denver Nuggets and the Oklahoma City Thunder will battle tonight in Denver’s home opener. The Nuggets are coming off a fantastic win against the defending champion Golden State Warriors in which they shot 53.5% from the field and 44% from three-point land. On the other hand, Denver’s opponent tonight, Oklahoma City, lost their first game of the season by seven against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Thunder’s offense was porous in that matchup as they shot 38% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc. The Nuggets have had their issues with the Thunder in the past, but if they can exercise the same effort and execution they did against Golden State they will be a problem for any team on any court.
Who: Denver Nuggets vs Oklahoma City Thunder
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Ball Arena
How to Watch/Listen: Altitude TV, League Pass (if not blacked out), Altitude Sports Radio 92.5FM
Rival Blog: Welcome to Loud City
Projected Starting Lineups:
Thunder — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, Kenrich Williams, Aleksej Pokusevski
Nuggets — Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokic
Three Things to Watch
Home openers are exciting for everybody, so Denver needs to capture the moment early in this game to get the crowd on their side. If they can increase their pace of play and force turnovers, their transition game should get the team and the crowd rolling early. Oklahoma City is prone to turning the ball over, so if Denver can capture the energy of the crowd and transfer that to the defensive end, that should result in them at least winning the first quarter.
Make Shai Gilgeous-Alexander uncomfortable
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is their most talented player and one of the most dangerous guards in this league. In Oklahoma City’s first game he dropped 32 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals on 12-23 shooting. He should get the lion's share of the shots tonight, so common sense would tell you that Nuggets defenders should be hyper-focused on him tonight. He can score from anywhere on the floor. He is an incredibly smooth finisher inside, and although he has a bit of an awkward jumper, he hits it with ease. Denver’s defense needs to make sure once he approaches the three-point line, he is getting bumped off the spot, or he will do damage.
If Murray does suit up tonight, it would be such a welcome sight to see him light it up in front of the crowd in the home opener. Michael Malone urged patience to Nuggets fans as Murray has not yet appeared to acclimate to NBA game-shape just yet, but as some saw against Utah, he can still get buckets. It would be wonderful to see him drop 25+ points, but what’s more important is his efficiency. For example, if he shot 5-8 that would be a great sign. Yes, it is low volume but the efficiency illustrates he is starting to return to typical Murray form.