The Denver Nuggets (46-24) went through a dry spell last week when they lost three of their four games, but they’ve bounced back this week with two road wins over the Charlotte Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves. They have a chance to make it a 3-0 week in a matchup with the Detroit Pistons (20-50) who are working on locking up the second-worst record in the NBA in what has been a lost season. 

Denver is 7-3 in their last 10 games, and they currently sit just one game back from the third-place LA Clippers, and they still have a chance to get that better seed. Getting into the third seed would allow them to avoid whatever team ends up with the top seed out West. A win in this game keeps the onus on the Clippers to continue winning out.

For Detroit, they’re deep into the tank. They’re 2-8 in their last 10 games, and they’re in the middle of a three-game losing streak. There are a number of teams right behind them in the pick odds, so they can’t afford a late-season win that could jeopardize the odds that they end up with as high of a draft pick as possible. 

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (46-24, 21-13 away) vs Detroit Pistons (20-50, 13-21 home)

When: 6:00 p.m. MST

Where: Little Caesars Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Detroit. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Expected Starting Lineups:

DET: PG Killian Hayes, SG Josh Jackson, SF Saddiq Bey, PF Sekou Doumbouya, C Isaiah Stewart

DEN: PG Facundo Campazzo, SG Austin Rivers, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Hamidou Diallo, Wayne Ellington, Jerami Grant, Frank Jackson, Cory Joseph, Will Barton, PJ Dozier, Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr.

Three Things to Watch

Rest vs Winning

Michael Porter Jr. was rested for Denver’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. This came just two days after he said that he wasn’t resting as long as Nikola Jokic wasn’t resting. Jokic is one of just a few players across the entire NBA that have yet to miss a game this season. If that continues, if they’re in a close game, will head coach Michael Malone prioritize the victory over resting his MVP center?   

Don’t Make It Close

Against the Hornets, Denver’s biggest lead was 20 points. Against the Timberwolves, it was 13. Detroit is noticeably worse than those teams, and they shouldn’t pose a threat. The key for Denver will be building a big lead and maintaining it, which is a task that the bench hasn’t been up to as of late. The previous matchup saw Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey combine for 54 points. Grant likely won’t be playing in this matchup, and Denver needs to get the work done early. 

Use This To Get Better

In games that turn into blowout wins or losses, teams don’t always use their opportunities to get better. Reserve players play track-meet basketball and chuck up bad shots until the clock runs out. If this game does become a blowout, it should be used to develop players that are in a cold spell, or it can be used to experiment with sets you’ve been trying to implement. The bottom line is the game can’t just be wasted if it’s a blowout.