The Denver Nuggets finally play a team other than the Los Angeles Lakers in their only home game of the preseason! Of course, that team is not another NBA team but rather the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s NBL. The Wildcats took a 27 hour flight to face the Jazz and – minus a couple of Perth’s starters – Perth got shelled 130-72. The jet lag and the jitters of facing an NBA team should have worn off slightly now, but Denver still has the large talent advantage and are looking to get in some good work without being in much danger. Both teams hope to get what they need from the experience, but it’s an understatement to say anything other than a resounding Nuggets victory would be a shock.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Perth Wildcats

When: 7:00 PM MT

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV, ESPN

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Injury Report

Isaiah Thomas – hip (out), Michael Porter Jr. – back (out), Jarred Vanderbilt – foot (out) 

Things to watch

  • Avoid injuries. The NBL is neither played nor reffed in quite the same way as an NBA game. Here’s an elbow to Torrey Craig’s chest when he played in the NBL to demonstrate:

Luckily this is refereed by NBA officials. Denver doesn’t need anybody cracking Nikola Jokic’s sternum to prove a point about how tough they are, especially after the struggles Perth had in their game against the Jazz. This is the Australian way, a 90s-Knicks style of basketball that should be a nice test for Denver’s more finesse-oriented ball club, provided everyone can avoid getting hurt.

  • Will Barton finding his flow. So far Barton has been less Thrill and more Meh, going 1-for-12 and then 3-for-9 in his first two preseason games as a starter. Adjusting to playing more off-ball is something he’ll have to do quickly to avoid hiccups as the Nuggets start the season. I expect him to make the adjustment, I’d just like to see it in the preseason. His sideways three-pointer at the end of the half against the Lakers showed he can still find that inner Thrill, but more of that would be nice.
  • Defensive gameplanning. Perth doesn’t have the same quality of athletes that many NBA teams sport, but they can play a slow-down kind of game or score on a team that will allow it. They put up 27 against Utah in the fourth quarter of that blowout loss. Denver let a lot of scoring go on against the starting unit in Los Angeles, barely seeming to remember they were playing defense at times. After some time back in their own gym I expect coach Michael Malone to want to focus on their defensive positioning against a team that should not be able to keep up with them offensively. All of this is preparation for the regular season after all.

Prediction: Denver 130, Perth 72. I like symmetry.