Riding high after grabbing a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers in Hollywood, the Denver Nuggets return to the Pepsi Center to welcome in the Utah Jazz. In George Karl’s heyday, this would be the type of game you can just chalk up as a schedule win. The Jazz are on the tail end of back to back and likely didn’t arrive in Denver until the wee hours of the night. Alas, the days of simply taking a tired, travel worn team to task at The Can have yet to return, and the youthful and athletic roster of the Jazz will present a challenge as the Nuggets look to notch their first win of the season on their home court.

Utah field’s an impressive starting lineup of young talent with Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward serving as what can be described as a poor man’s big three. Much like the Nuggets though, not everything has gone perfect for the Jazz and thus they too find themselves at 2-2 with an ugly loss in their home opener to a supposed inferior division rival (in Utah’s case it was the Portland Trailblazers). Despite all this, the Nuggets need to get back to being a dominant home court team and this will be the first game of the season where the schedule has put them at an advantage. If Denver can continue the offensive momentum they created in LA, they should be able to send the Jazz back to Utah with a losing record.

The Basics:

Who: The Utah Jazz (2-2) at the Denver Nuggets (2-2)

When: 7PM MST

Where: The Can, Denver, CO

Where to Watch: Altitude TV

Enemy Blog: SLC Dunk

Utah Jazz
Denver Nuggets Advantage
PG Raul Neto Emmanuel Mudiay Nuggets
SG Rodney Hood Gary Harris Even
SF Gordon Hayward Danilo Gallinari Even
PF Derrick Favors Kenneth Faried Even
C Rudy Gobert J.J. Hickson Jazz
Bench Trevor Booker, Joe Ingles, Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Trey Lyles Jameer Nelson, Darrell Arthur, Will Barton, Nikola Jokic, Randy Foye, J.J. Hickson, Mike Miller


Injured players: Wilson Chandler, hip (out), Jusuf Nurkic, knee (out), Joffrey Lauvergne, back (out), Nikola Jokic, back (questionable), Dante Exum, knee (out).

Key Matchup: Jazz bigs vs. Nuggets "bigs"

With both Lauvergne and Jokic nursing sore backs, the Nuggets could once again have to rely on heavy minutes from Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and Hickson at the center position. They were able to overcome the injuries against the Lakers, but Gobert and Favors offer a bigger challenge than Roy Hibbert and Julius Randle (though, in my opinion, Randle is going to be very good). In their preseason match up, the Jazz bigs had no problem dominating the inside and the glass against the Nuggets. Gobert has already flashed his dominance on the glass early this season, totaling 17 rebounds in their recent game against the Indiana Pacers. Still, Faried has filled in admirably as the #1 big while the team waits for Nurkic to return and has racked up some monster games of his own, none bigger than two nights ago in LA (28pts 15 rebs) and as you can see below, his passion and love for the game seems to be fully back now that the Brian Shaw experiment is over.

Update (12:01 P.M.): According to Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post Jokic is still questionable but Lauvergne has been ruled out. Get ready for some more J.J. Hickson at center Nuggets fans!

What to watch for: Pace

Nuggets fans have been paid lip service going on three years about how the team wants to run and so far this season Coach Michael Malone has been delivering on that promise. Tonight's game is the first where pace can really become a factor as the Jazz should tire quickly if forced to play a run it up and down the court type of game. However, if the Nuggets get complacent and play a slower grind it out style then they will fall right into the Jazz's strategy and find themselves in a tough matchup to win. Let's get up and go fellas.

Plan B? We don't have a Plan B

Alright alright, when John Elway used that line he was referring to going all out with Peyton Manning, but I’m going to steal it to talk about the lack of depth on both sides. Denver’s injuries have piled up and they’ve been stretching out to the last guys on the roster. In fact, the Nuggets have been so stretched thin that they have released Erick Green and brought back Kostas Papanikolaou to help provide some more size on the bench. The Jazz seem to not care about building a bench at all. They’ve got Alec Burks and Trey Burke, who are solid players, and but after that it gets ugly. Trey Lyles doesn’t look like he’s ready for big minutes yet and that’s left Joe Ingles as a staple of their rotation…that guy would have to wear a Nuggets jersey for about 5 minutes and he would get inducted into the Stiffs Hall of Fame. With neither bench being all that impressive, it will be interesting to see which one will be more effective.

Prediction: Nuggets run the Jazz out of the building and take the W, 114-98

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