Preview: Nuggets face off against the East-leading Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets v Denver Nuggets
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

No Kevin Durant. No Kyrie Irving. No James Harden. The Nets are battling covid-19 protocols right now, so tonight is a great time to capitalize and steal one in Brooklyn

The Denver Nuggets are facing the Brooklyn Nets at exactly the right time. We are very aware of Denver’s misfortune when it comes to injuries and covid-19 but the Nets are right there with them. Their injury report is as long as a 10-year-olds Christmas wish list. Their historic big 3 will miss tonight’s game due to health and safety protocols, so tonight is the time to take one from an otherwise great opponent.

The Nuggets are coming off one of their best performances of the year, putting up 133 points against a solid Atlanta Hawks team. Although the Nets are a shell of themselves, road games are rarely easy in the NBA so tonight is a great test of concentration. It is also a good opportunity for Will Barton to regain his rhythm. He has struggled lately since his illness and tonight offers him some room to start getting comfortable again.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (15-14, 7-9 away) vs Brooklyn Nets (21-9, 10-6 home)

When: 5:30 PM MT

Where: Barclays Center

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

Rival Blog: Nets Daily

Expected Starting Lineups:

BKN: PG Patty Mills, SG Cameron Thomas, SG David Duke Jr., SF Kessler Edwards, PF Blake Griffin

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

Injuries: JaMychal Green (out), Markus Howard (out), Bol Bol (out), Day’Ron Sharpe (out), Nic Claxton (out), Kyrie Irving (out), James Harden (out), Kevin Durant (out), Bruce Brown (out), James Johnson (out), Jevon Carter (out), LaMarcus Alridge (out), Paul Millsap (out), Joe Harris (out)

Three Things to Watch

Three-point line

The Nets lineup is a small one. They are starting 3 guards, a small forward, and a power forward, so they will likely do their damage from the perimeter. Patty Mills has been stepping up in everybody’s absence. He’s been one of the deadliest perimeter shooters in the game for a while, so the Nuggets will have to focus on him especially off screens. He attempted 14 threes in their last game against Orlando, so he will put up as many as he can. The Nuggets do not need to match their production from beyond, but they do need to make sure another Timberwolves game does not happen again.

Bench scoring

The Nuggets bench played extremely well on Friday. They combined for 51 points aiding Denver’s 133 point effort. Bones Hyland had a career-high 24 points last game, so it will be intriguing to see how he follows it up. Part of his basketball maturity will be stacking efficient games on top of one another, and tonight is a great opportunity to do so with a depleted Nets lineup. The Nuggets guards seem to carry the load offensively for that group which means Rivers, Hyland, and Campazzo will shoulder the load offensively when Jokic is out.

Persistence

As the Nets are constructed at this very moment, they are a bad team. The lineup looks like a G League roster, so the Nuggets need to make sure to keep the foot on the gas if and when they obtain a lead. The bench will play a significant role in extending it and if they have a bad game, it could leave the Nets in a position to win. Denver just needs to play sound, fundamental basketball and their talent should take over. No silly fouls, technicals, or ejections.

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