It was not a good week for the Denver Nuggets last week. While they watched other teams play in the NBA Cup, the Nuggets were left to play teams who likewise were already eliminated. Unfortunately for Denver, both games against such teams last week resulted in losses. Now, they once again head out on a road trip in search of a victory. Their opponent will be the Atlanta Hawks who are also currently mired in a losing streak. Atlanta has dropped their last three games and five of their last six. Led by score first point guard Trae Young, the Hawks continue to be a middle of the pack team despite trying various combinations of cores around Young. Last year they added DeJounte Murray to pair with him in the backcourt. This year they shipped off forward John Collins to get more playing time for talented young forward De’Andre Hunter. Despite the moves, Atlanta sits at 9-12 and looks headed for a play-in tournament at best finish once again.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (14-9) at Atlanta Hawks (9-12)

When: 5:30 PM MST

Where: Jake’s Place. Atlanta, GA.

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. Claim to be Ted Turner’s lawyer and say you have convincing evidence that Ted actually own the Hawks arena, along with every other piece of private land in Georgia.

Rival Blog: Peachtree Hoops

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Hawks Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Trae Young Even
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope DeJounte Murray Hawks
SF Michael Porter Jr. Saddiq Bey Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon De’Andre Hunter Even
C Nikola Jokic Clint Capela Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Julian Strawther, Peyton Watson, DeAndre Jordan Onyeka Okongwu, Wesley Matthews, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Garrison Matthews Even


Injury report: Jamal Murray – probable (ankle), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Jay Huff – out (G-League), Braxton Key – out (G-League), Colin Gillespie – out (G-League); De’Andre Hunter – questionable (quad), Kobe Bufkin – out (thumb), Mouhamed Gueye – out (back), Jalen Johnson – out (wrist), Seth Lundy – out (G-League), Miles Norris – out (G-League).

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: energy from the starters

The Nuggets starters looked pretty flat last week and when Nikola Jokic wasn’t knocking down shots it seemed like many of his teammates didn’t know what to do. I’m looking for a more aggressive game from Aaron Gordon in particular tonight who has a good matchup with Hunter. AG has been struggling mightily since returning from his heel injury and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. In Denver’s game on Friday against the Houston Rockets Gordon ultimately was benched in favor of Peyton Watson down the stretch. Whether it is Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Michael Porter Jr or even Jamal Miurray (who is still coming back from an ankle sprain), the Nuggets need some extra juice from the starters not named Nikola.

The thing to remember: Jokic doesn’t score a ton on Capela

Nov 12, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) controls the ball as Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) guards in the third quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola’s career high against Clint Capela is 27 points, but since Clint came to Atlanta Jokic has never topped 24 points against him. Early in his career Joker struggled a lot with the athletic big but eventually figured him out like he does everyone. Still, Capela, and the Hawks defense in general, often forces Jokic to be more of a facilitator than a scorer. Given his recent struggles shooting the ball it will be interesting tonight to see if Atlanta switches it up and makes Joker beat them by putting the ball in the basket.

The thing to bet: KCP over 1.5 threes and 9.5 points (+130)

DeJounte Murray is the far superior defender of the Hawks two guards and we’ll likely see some Murray on Murray violence with him matching up with Jamal on a regular basis. That means woeful defender Trae Young gets put on Kentavious and that could mean a nice night scoring for KCP. You can take the over on 1.5 threes and get even money but if you add in the over for KCP points it’ll boost it to +130.