Two 4-1 Western Conference teams meet on Monday night as the Denver Nuggets host the New Orleans Pelicans. Both teams had their unbeaten streaks snapped on the road in their previous game, and are looking to get back on their winning ways. Anthony Davis was listed as questionable the day before the game, while Denver is without the services of Will Barton for another several weeks. It’s unknown if Davis will play, but if he does, Denver cannot allow him to dictate the game, especially after letting LeBron James show his MVP chops in the last game.

The Basics

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (4-1) at Denver Nuggets (4-1)
When: 7:00 PM MDT
Where: The Can, Denver CO
How to watch: Altitude TV, and the AltitudeNOW App
How to Listen: Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
Rival Blog: The Bird Writes

Injury Report

Will Barton (hip/groin) – out, Isaiah Thomas (hip) – out, Michael Porter Jr. (back) – out, Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) – out, Julius Randle (plantar fasciitis) – probable, Anthony Davis (elbow) – questionable, Darius Miller (quad bruise) – doubtful, Elfrid Payton (ankle) – out

UPDATE: Davis is out.

Three Things to Watch

Will Anthony Davis play? The Nuggets seem to have had a surprising number of good players have their returns from injury happen against them – and those players usually perform well. Davis did not play for the Pelicans against the Jazz and the Pelicans not-so-surprisingly lost that game. They hub everything they do around Davis, much as the Nuggets do with Nikola Jokic, and the lack of Davis would make this game much easier for Denver.

Assuming he plays, though, Denver has no one to match up with AD’s skillset. Few teams in the league do. This may be a case of letting Davis get his and trying to beat the rest of the roster to make up for it, but in crunch time Denver will need to find the stops they lacked against LeBron James in their only loss of the season thus far.

On-ball pressure. Lonzo Ball was able to pester Jamal Murray to the point that Monte Morris had to come in off the bench to avoid turnovers against that pressure. Jrue Holiday is capable of harassing Denver’s ball handlers in a similar fashion with his length and excellent defensive chops. The Nuggets will need their guards to take care of the ball in this game, and to remember to run the offense through Nikola Jokic. Jokic had three assists in the Lakers loss and was trying to force the action when he did get the ball, something that isn’t his normal style. Jokic ball is the way to defeat that sort of guard pressure without having to switch out for Morris, and Denver would do well to implement it in large doses.

Rebounding. The Pelicans are top-10 in grabbing offensive rebounds. The Nuggets have been excellent at keeping opposing teams off the offensive and defensive glass, with top-5 marks in each so far in the early season. They also utilize defensive boards to initiate fast breaks before the defense is set on the other end. If Denver wants to run New Orleans at altitude, they will need to control the glass.

Prediction: This game is a coin-flip. I’ll take Denver due to the home court, but they’ll need to bring their best effort if Anthony Davis can go, or avoid a let-down if he doesn’t. I’ll say 115-110 Denver.

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