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Preview: Nuggets look to avoid a four-game losing streak as they host the Nets

Both teams bring losing streaks into Ball Arena tonight. Nuggets have lost 3 in a row while Brooklyn is on a 7 game skid. Who will return to the win column tonight?

Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets and the Brooklyn Nets will face off today at Ball Arena. Following a five-game winning streak, Denver has lost three in a row, but it pales in comparison to Brooklyn’s seven-game losing streak. One of those losses came against Denver in late January but it was a tight contest. Brooklyn’s bench, in particular Cam Thomas, stepped up in the absence of Durant, Harden, and Irving. He scored 25 points on four made threes and hit big shots late in that game.

Tonight, the Nuggets expect to face Kyrie Irving for the first time this season, but Kevin Durant will be out and James Harden is questionable. In 11 games, Irving is averaging 22.8 points and 4.8 assists per game and in 16 games against Denver, he has averaged 24.2 points and 5.8 assists per game. The Nuggets need to capitalize on a wounded opponent tonight because the Timberwolves are one game back from surpassing the Nuggets for the 6th spot, and the Clippers are on their tail as well.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (28-24, 13-10 home) vs. Brooklyn Nets (29-23, 17-10 away)

When: 1:30 PM MT

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough), or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: NetsDaily

Expected Starting Lineups:

BKN: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Patty Mills, SF Kessler Edwards, PF James Johnson, C Nic Claxton

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

Injuries: Aaron Gordon (day to day), Austin Rivers (day to day), Vlatko Cancar (out), Kevin Durant (out), James Harden (day to day), Joe Harris (out), LaMarcus Alridge (out), Nic Claxton (day to day)

Three Keys

Maintain a movement-oriented offense

This is the staple of the Nuggets offense but through this losing streak, they have not been executing their offense the way they would like. The Nuggets rank as a top 4 assist team in the league, but in their last 3 games they are 21st in the league. They are also not capitalizing in the paint. They have been the worst team in the league in paint scoring in their last three games. The three-ball has been working lately for Denver but it is not translating to wins, so look for them to regain their identity tonight.

Keep their guards in check

With the absence of Durant and Harden, Irving, Mills, and Thomas are Brooklyn’s most explosive offensive scorers. The perimeter defense will have to be strong tonight because all three of those guards can score from anywhere on the floor. It’s easier said than done, but the Nuggets cannot allow straight-line drives to the hoop, or else they will get dominated in the paint two games in a row. Hopefully, Aaron Gordon can return tonight to fortify the defense along with his offensive presence at the rim.

Close quarters

Denver closed quarters well in the last matchup and they look to do that again so they can carry momentum into each quarter. When they are able to close quarters on a high note, it increases the energy throughout the whole arena and facilitates confidence moving forward. Austin Rivers erupted in their previous meeting, scoring 25 points on seven threes. If he is unable to go tonight, Bryn Forbes and Bones Hyland will have crucial roles, especially in the non-Jokic minutes. Another player to watch out for is Jeff Green. In his last seven games, he is averaging just 7 points on 11% shooting from beyond the arc. Tonight, he faces his old team once again, so maybe we see another package of Uncle Jeff highlight-reel dunks tonight.