The Denver Nuggets have lost two in a row and their last four road games. They find themselves in this situation while in the middle of a five game road trip. Tonight they get the added difficulty of facing another road opponent, the Detroit Pistons, while also being on the second night of a back to back. To Denver’s advantage, they are playing the Pistons, a team seemingly forever mired in mediocrity at best, down right awful at worst. This is one of those at worst times. Detroit has mustered just two victories this season and currently is on an eleven game losing streak. Their star young guard Cade Cunningham has not lived up to expectations and while rookie Ausar Thompson is a bright spot, there’s not much else going Detroit’s way right now. Thompson, Cunningham, Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey make up what could be an exciting core to build around but right now they are still too young, the Pistons are mired by injuries and their young talent is surrounded by a collection of other teams’ draft busts like Marvin Bagley, James Wiseman and Kevin Knox. If there was ever a team for Denver to get right against, it’s early season Detroit.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (9-4) at Detroit Pistons (2-12)

When: 5PM MST

Where: The Pizza Palace. Detroit, MI.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy….unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. Altitude TV where available (Altitude TV is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream & Fubo TV). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5FM. Dress up in a little red devil costume and claim to be Nain Rouge.

Rival Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

The Matchup

Injury Report: Jamal Murray – out (hamstring), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Killian Hayes – questionable (shoulder), Isaiah Livers – out (ankle), Jalen Duren – out (ankle), Joe Harris – out (shoulder), Monte Morris – out (quad), Bojan Bogdanovic – out (calf). *Official injury reports for Denver & Detroit were not submitted at time of writing.

The Three Things

Key matchup: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope vs Cade Cunningham

Jan 25, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) shoots in the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons will go as Cunningham goes. He’s basically their Obi-Wan Kenobi right now (read: their only hope). Unfortunately for Cade, he gets one of the best perimeter defenders in the league on him tonight. Caldwell-Pope can score a grand total of zero points, if he bottles up Cade then it will take some serious lapses from the Nuggets to drop this one. It won’t be that easy for KCP though. Despite an up and down start to the season Cunningham remains extremely talented with the ability to score and play make for others in his third season in the NBA. Look for Detroit to try to shake him loose from KCP with a lot of screens, though in some cases that is a pick your poison with every one of Denver’s starters (yes even Nikola) capable of taking on defending the ballhandler in the pick and roll.

The thing to remember: Detroit actually could be good if they weren’t so hurt

I don’t think it was the plan of anyone in the Pistons front office to be giving major minutes to aforementioned busts like Bagley, Knox and Wiseman but Detroit simply can’t get healthy. They lost Bojan Bogdanovic (a 21+ point scorer for them last season) and Monte Morris before the season even started and both have yet to play a game this year. Duren is battling an ankle injury, Killian Hayes is fighting a shoulder injury, sharpshooter Joe Harris is fighting a shoulder injury as well. I really do believe there’s a lot to like about this Pistons roster and they are not as bad as their record suggests. They’re not getting all those guys back tonight though, in fact they might not get any of them back, so Denver needs to take advantage of a team down on their luck and put this one away.

The thing to bet: A fatigue parlay – Jokic 10+ rebounds & over 224.5 points (+125)

Isaiah Stewart and Wiseman get the unenviable task of guarding Nikola tonight and trying to keep him off the glass. Thompson does most of the work on the boards for Detroit so while Aaron Gordon is doing everything he can to box Thompson out, Jokic should eat on the glass while Stewart and Wiseman muster the energy to do battle with the league’s leading rebounder. 10+ rebounds on it’s own won’t get you a good payout though so chuck in the over to boost this to a +125. You’ve got two teams coming off a game last night so energy on defense will be lacking. The Pistons also literally gave up 142 points last night. A bit of a danger if this thing gets out of hand early and becomes a blowout for either team, but even then it feels more like a 125-105 type blowout rather than a 110-92 type of blowout.

The Nuggets are 9.5  point favorites for the line tonight and the over/under is set at 223.5.

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