Preview: Jokic and Young meet as both teams look to surpass .500

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams are tremendously talented, yet they are in the midst of a disappointing start to the season. Denver won their last matchup against the Hawks as they look for the season sweep tonight

The Denver Nuggets look to avenge their terrible home loss to the Timberwolves as they travel south to face the Atlanta Hawks. Although the Hawks have an 8-6 home record they are currently on a 5 game losing streak at State Farm Arena. They have been road warriors of late winning their last 5 games, but their last road loss came against this Nuggets team. Denver beat them 105-96 in their last matchup as they had pretty solid production throughout the lineup.

This test will be much different because the Nuggets are a much different team on the road. At home, the Nuggets rank 3rd in the NBA allowing 101.3 PPG but on the road, they rank 22nd allowing 110.5 PPG. They are scoring 107 PPG away from Ball Arena, good for 14th among the league, but their defense is a massive reason they are 6-9 on the road. They once again will have to limit a Trae Young explosion tonight. In their previous matchup, he scored 30 points, and he is on a tear right now scoring 25+ points in his last 11 games.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (14-14, 6-9 away) vs Atlanta Hawks (14-14, 8-6 home)

When: 5:30 PM MT

Where: State Farm Arena

How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough), or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Peachtree Hoops

Expected Starting Lineups:

ATL: PG Trae Young, SG Kevin Huerter, SF Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, PF John Collins, C Clint Capela

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Austin Rivers (out), JaMychal Green (out), Markus Howard (out), Bogdan Bogdanovic (out), De’Andre Hunter (out), Onyeka Okongwu (day to day)

Three Things to Watch

Three-point line

This is an obvious one as the Nugget come off a game in which they allowed the Timberwolves to obtain a franchise record for threes at 23 on 48% shooting. The Hawks were not great from the three-point line last time. They only hit 5-28 threes, but they are the best team in the NBA when it comes to 3P%. They shoot 39% from deep and average about 12 made threes per game. I would expect a much better effort out of them this time around, but I also expect the same out of the Nuggets. They got embarrassed at home because of the three-ball, so I expect that to be a point of emphasis.

Atlanta’s bigs

This is a talented group and the Nuggets are not deep at the forward or center positions. The Nuggets did compete on the glass well in their previous matchup. Atlanta only outrebounded them by one, but they did grab 14 offensive rebounds which will be something to focus on tonight. The Hawks average about 11 offensive rebounds a game that ranks 8th in the NBA, and they have the horses to disrupt Denver tonight. John Collins and Clint Capela are two strong, athletic bigs that demand attention. Jokic will continue his good play, but Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon should be crucial tonight.

Return to form on defense

Denver has to earn their respect back on defense. The whole NBA landscape witnessed the performance Minnesota put on them, so that should light a fire within them to prove something tonight. Although they are a bad defense on the road, they did hold Atlanta under 100 in the last matchup which could give them confidence heading into this game. Denver will need to provide multiple stops in each quarter to hold off Atlanta because they do not want to find themselves in a shootout, on the road, against a talented offensive squad.

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