The Denver Nuggets (14-7) are set to take on the Atlanta Hawks (12-10) in the first game of a two-game road set — meaning they would’ve only played 36% of their games at home after tonight’s game. The Nuggets will have to get used to playing good teams again after playing a successful back-to-back set against the Houston Rockets at home earlier in the week.
The Nuggets have been on a roll lately being on a 4 game win streak and winning 5 of their last 6. They’ve brought the effort they need to in order to steamroll bad teams, and they’ll need to continue to keep the pedal to the metal with some tough games coming up. It’s likely that Michael Porter Jr. and Jeff Green will both remain absent from action on this road trip with MPJ being already ruled out for tonight’s game as early as Thursday, and Jeff Green being ruled as doubtful.
Atlanta is dealing with their own set of important injuries — missing both John Collins and DeAndre Hunter ruled out, and Bogdan Bogdanovic being considered questionable for the contest. Denver will be on equal footing with their opponent and will have to play accordingly.
Who: Denver Nuggets (14-7, 8-5 away) @ Atlanta Hawks (12-10, 7-4 home)
When: 5:30 PM MST
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy (unless it’s the Captain Kidd type), AltitudeTV where available, League Pass for non-Denver market viewers, show up in Atlanta. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio
Rival Blog: Peach Tree Hoops
Expected Starting Lineups:
DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Bruce Brown, PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic
ATL: PG Trae Young, SG Dejounte Murray, SF AJ Griffin, PF Onyeka Okongwu, C Clint Capela
Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg) OUT, Michael Porter Jr. (left heel strain) OUT, Jeff Green (knee) DOUBTFUL, John Collins (ankle) OUT, DeAndre Hunter (hip) OUT, Justin Holiday (COVID) OUT, Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) QUESTIONABLE, Jalen Johnson (ankle) QUESTIONABLE, Frank Kaminsky (foot) QUESTIONABLE
Three Things to Watch
Can Jamal Murray keep his hot streak going?
Over the course of this season, we’ve seen Jamal Murray get more and more comfortable as a driver. This comes in large part from reps, after Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets he said, “Just reps, it’s all it is. Doing it more often, getting more comfortable with it [driving to the rim]. I used to fall a lot, just jump in the air and figure it out, the more I fall the more I do in practice, the more I go up and try to challenge bigs.”
During the last 4 games he has been active in, Jamal has averaged 22 points per game and 6 assists a game. He’s doing that while shooting 49.2/44/81.3 splits — a far more efficient product than what we first saw this season from him. However, he’s done this against weaker competition, and with Dejounte Murray being one of the best defenders in the NBA, it will be interesting to see if Jamal can put up similar numbers against better teams.
The Nuggets have not been good defensively this season, and that’s no secret. They’re currently 24th in the league in defensive rating and it seems like there are some nights that Denver just can’t put forth a competent pick-and-roll defense. With Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, and a myriad of role players able to score off of the looks those two generate, Atlanta could prove difficult to guard despite being ranked only 20th in the league in offensive rating. If the Nuggets were able to put together a good defensive night, on the other hand, it could be a sign that things are shifting.
Aaron Gordon’s Shooting
Aaron Gordon started the season shooting the three ball poorly, making only 10.5% of his attempts in the first six games. He’s turned it around though, as since then he’s made 56.3% of his shots from beyond the arc. It’s not reasonable to expect him to keep up that level of shooting, but if he can keep teams honest when he’s spacing the floor it’ll make the Nuggets’ offense that much more deadly.