At the beginning of last season, the Denver Nuggets went into Houston and, despite a metric ton of turnovers, came away with a feel good win on opening night. Denver then proceeded to poop the proverbial bed in their home opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves. While it’s anecdotal to say, that loss sure seemed to set the precedent on how the more casual fans viewed the 2015-16 iteration of the Denver Nuggets, as they stayed away from the Pepsi Center in droves (yeah, that’s the phrasing I’m going with).

In an almost déjà vu scenario, this season started with a feel good win for the Nuggets despite an even larger number of turnovers. They also overcame an otherworldly performance from Anthony Davis.They again have the opportunity to cement the positive start with their home crowd by winning their home opener. Additionally, tonight’s crowd should be large and excited with the retirement of Dikembe Mutombo’s jersey. It is incumbent on the Nuggets to show these quite possibly on-the-fence-fans that they have a product not only worth watching occasionally, but also opening their wallets to see them live.

Three things I’m looking for:

Contain penetration/corner threes

In their preseason game against the Blazers, Al-Farouq Aminu opened the game just flat going off from three – all on catch at shoot opportunities. Denver coach Michael Malone has reworked their pick and roll coverage specifically to limit the exact type of three point shots Aminu was burying in that game. So far in the preseason, the team still seems to be giving up the drive and kick threes. In fact, Denver gave up a higher percentage on more attempted threes through the preseason than over last season. So, is the scheme Malone implemented flawed? Personally, I think it has a lot to do with an adjustment period. Previously, the Nuggets would sag off the strong corner against any sort of penetration, which left them vulnerable to an easy kick to a corner three on the strong side. The new scheme calls for the strong side wing to stay at home, but habits aren’t reformed over night. Additionally, if you’re going to choose someone out of PDX’s starters to shoot a three (Mason Plumlee isn’t going to be out there) Aminu is probably the best choice defensively. I will be watching closely to see if players (I’m looking at you Nikola Jokic stay at home on the strong side off penetration. I’m also looking at Emmanuel Mudiay and Will Barton to do a better job of keeping Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum out of the paint.

Home Court attitude

One of the things that suffered the most under the Brian Shaw regime was the presumed dominance of the Nuggets on their home court. I know that the entire organization is looking to reestablish that supremacy. Denver needs to come out with a clear “Not in my house!” attitude. I don’t care how that manifests, but the Nuggets – if they really have hopes of the playoffs this season – must make the Pepsi Center once again a pit of vipers for opposing teams. As Malone is fond of saying, Denver needs to make the Blazers ‘feel them’ on defense, and take every opportunity to run it down Portland’s throat. The Nuggets have a huge opportunity here to show the city of Denver, the Northwest division, and the rest of the NBA, that coming into Denver will once again be a guaranteed loss.

Rainbow Skyline throwbacks?

Ah, hellz to the yeah!

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