The struggling Nuggets meet the red hot Bucks at Ball Arena tonight. Jokic’s status is still in question but he is trending in the right direction
The ailing Denver Nuggets will search for their first win in more than 10 days as the Milwaukee Bucks come to town. Nuggets fans hope to have their MVP back to battle Milwaukee’s former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jokic’s wrist is trending in the right direction so it appears he could suit up tonight but nothing is certain.
As for the Bucks, we know they are a dangerous team but they are hitting on all cylinders lately. They are winners of five straight and averaging 112 points per game in that span. They finally have their big 3 healthy with Holiday, Giannis, and Middleton, so Denver will need all hands on deck to defeat the reigning champions.
Who: Denver Nuggets (9-9, 7-3 home) vs Milwaukee Bucks (11-8, 5-4 away)
When: 7:00 p.m. MST
Where: Ball 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: Brew Hoop
Expected Starting Lineups:
MIL: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Grayson Allen, SF Khris Middleton, PF Giannis Antetokounmpo, C Bobby Portis
DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Austin Rivers, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic
Injuries: Bones Hyland (day to day) PJ Dozier (out), Michael Porter Jr. (out), Semi Ojeleye (out), Rodney Hood (day to day),
Three Things to Watch
Does the big man play?
This is the question everybody is waiting to get an answer for. If Jokic plays, Denver always has a chance but if he does not, the Nuggets are in real trouble with a healthy Bucks team. Not only do they need him on offense but defense as well. The Nuggets were the second-best defensive team in the league when he was in the lineup, and ever since they have become the second-worst defense in the league. This Bucks can light it up from anywhere on the floor so if Jokic can man the interior and guards defend the perimeter well, they will have a chance to win in the 4th quarter.
If Jokic is out for tonight’s game, Denver will have a major disadvantage on the boards. Milwaukee is the second-best rebounding team in the league, averaging almost 48 per game, while the Nuggets are 26th in the NBA right now. The Nuggets have moved to a small ball lineup with Jokic’s absence and it might hurt them tonight because Giannis feasts on the glass but so does the rest of their team. In their last game against Detroit, every starter grabbed at least 7 rebounds except for Grayson Allen with 3. They are a gang rebounding team, and through their five-game winning streak, they are averaging 55 rebounds a game which is the best mark in the league.
Turnovers will happen in a basketball game but if you are the underdog, you need to make sure they are as limited as possible. Denver cannot continue to have 5-7 turnover quarters because Milwaukee will make you pay. Right now, they average about 15 points off turnovers a game which is 4th in the league. They are also a top 10 three-point shooting team, so if the Nuggets turn it over frequently, they might find themselves in a 20 point hole very quickly. They are also really efficient in transition. Giannis might be the best rim runner in the league, Middleton and Allen can spot up from three, and Holiday is a great facilitator at that point guard spot. Denver’s margin for error is already very slim, so mastering the fundamentals tonight will keep them in the game.