What to Watch For in Nuggets Game vs. Brooklyn
For the second time in just over a week, the Nuggets will see the Brooklyn Nets. But this time the game -- which is the final meeting in this season’s series between the two teams -- is in the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center.
The Nets picked up their first road win of the season on Monday night in Phoenix, so this is the second of a back-to-back for them. It snapped a four-game losing streak, but could have been a costly victory because one of their top scorers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, suffered a hip injury that forced him to miss the entire second half. His availability for tonight’s game remains to be seen. Hollis-Jefferson scored 18 points against the Nuggets in the first meeting.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, are looking to get back in the win column after dropping their last contest to Golden State. This is the fourth game in the team’s season-long six-game homestand.
How do the Nuggets get a third win on this home stretch? Start with these things…
Get a repeat performance from starters: The Nuggets starters dominated the game in Brooklyn on Oct. 29, outscoring the Nets starters 92-53. Jamal Murray (26 points) and Nikola Jokic (21 points, 14 rebounds) led the way in that game. Nuggets starters had a rough outing on Saturday night, so they’ll be looking to bounce back with a good performance. Getting the team out of the gate quickly against Brooklyn would go a long way toward taking control of the game.
Make free throws: This space is not usually reserved for obvious items such as this, but 10 games into the season, Nuggets coach Michael Malone highlighted some early concerns and free throws were near the top of the list. The team has shot 65 percent or worse from the charity stripe in four of the 10 games. On the season, they have left 62 points on the board from free throw misses; in other words, an average of 6.2 points per game. There are good free throw shooters on this team, so there isn’t any real reason to believe this is to become a season-long issue. But players have been working extra time on it. We’ll see how quickly that work translates to more makes in games.
Hold Brooklyn under 45 percent from the field. Though the sample size is still small, there is one trend emerging – when the Nuggets hold a team under 45 percent shooting, the result is almost always a win. Denver is 3-1 in such circumstances this season, the win at Brooklyn being one of them. The Nuggets held Brooklyn to 40 percent shooting in that game. On the flipside, the Nets have been held under 45 percent in seven games this season. They are 2-5 in those contests, though Monday’s game at Phoenix, which they won, was one of them.
INJURY REPORT: Juancho Hernangomez (mononucleosis) is out of the game.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.