The Denver Nuggets (15-10, 6-3 Home) take on the Utah Jazz (15-13 6-8 Away) back home in Denver. This will be the two teams’ third meeting of the season after the Nuggets got trounced in the first game of the season at Utah. The Nuggets come into tonight’s game fresh off of a huge win in Portland behind a Jamal Murray game-winner. The Jazz enter tonight being 3-7 in their last 10 games, Utah has dropped from the 1 seed early on to now being the 6th seed. Tonight’s game is a vital one for Denver, they need a win to be winning the season series with the Jazz, but also to jump past the Phoenix Suns for the 3 seed. The Suns also take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, making it possible for Phoenix to fall even further in the standings.
Who: The Utah Jazz (15-13, 6-8 away) @ The Denver Nuggets (15-10, 6-3 home)
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
How to watch/listen: AltitudeTV or NBA TV for non-Denver markets, 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio
Rival Blog: The SLC Dunk
Expected Starting Lineups:
DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Bruce Brown, PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokić
UTAH: PG Jordan Clarkson, SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SF Malik Beasley, PF Kelly Olynyk, C Walker Kessler
DEN: Collin Gillespie (leg) OUT, Michael Porter Jr. (left heel strain) OUT, Jeff Green (knee) PROBABLE, Jamal Murray (knee) PROBABLE
UTAH: Collin Sexton (hamstring) OUT, Lauri Markkanen (illness) OUT, Mike Conley (leg) PROBABLE
Three Things to Watch for:
With the Jazz players’ injuries, how good is this team still?:
The Utah Jazz stunned everybody at the beginning of the season jumping out to a 10-3 start. This was largely due to the play of Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen as well as others. The Jazz are still a dangerous team and this is not an easy win for Denver, but Utah has to play much differently from how they would play with a healthy lineup. With two of the Jazz’s best players out, will Utah’s bench be able to step it up and beat a rolling Nuggets squad?
Push the tempo:
The Jazz played 24 hours ago in Minnesota, they are already shorthanded but now they are tired as well. If the Nuggets can push the pace early on in this game, Utah might not be able to stick with them for the rest of the game. The Jazz also are playing bench players more minutes than they typically would, potentially making them even more tired than normal. Denver has had a day off in between games, likely traveling back to Denver and getting rested for this game. If Denver can pull away early on, it could even lead to the starters getting more rest.
Coach tries new things offensively?:
The Utah Jazz are a great basketball team, but they are still far away from the championship contenders of the NBA. They aren’t the type of team to notice a small weakness and exploit it every single time down the court. With that in mind, this could lead Denver to try and use Jokić less tonight. If Denver can get the win tonight with mostly production from the supporting cast that would be a huge boost to their confidence and would allow Jokić to stay rested for when he is really needed.