Speedy Playmakers Clash as Suns Host Nuggets

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Like Phoenix, Denver underwent a front office overhaul during the offseason. Their roster also suffered plenty of turnover.

The outcome for the Nuggets hasn’t been nearly as encouraging, at least in the early stages of the season. They dropped their first three games before eking out a two-point home win over Atlanta, avoiding their worst start since 1999.

Ty Lawson has been a revelation for the Nuggets, averaging 21.0 points, 7.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. His three-point accuracy (42.1 percent) nearly mirrors his overall field goal percentage (42.2 percent).

Denver poses a serious threat on the glass, where they rank third in the league in rebounds per game. J.J. Hickson and Kenneth Faried are both pulling down 8.3 caroms per contest.

KEY MATCHUP

You won’t find two more eerily similar point guards than Eric Bledsoe and Ty Lawson. Both were drafted 18th overall, just a year apart. Both started their careers as backups before earning a starting role. Both are billed as among the fastest players in the league. Finally, both are having breakout seasons.

Lawson has proven more consistent shooting from the perimeter, but Bledsoe’s crunch-time numbers are among the very best in the league. Tonight could very well come down to which floor general has a greater command of the game.

OPPONENT X-FACTOR

Will they stay hot from deep? The Nuggets currently rank first in three-point shooting, hitting an incredible 47.8 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.

Lawson, Randy Foye, Jordan Hamilton and Nate Robinson are all proven threats. When they miss, their big men, especially Faried, Hickson and JaVale McGee, crash the boards hard.

FINAL THOUGHT

Goran Dragic is a game-time decision for the Suns after suffering a sprained ankle at Oklahoma city on Sunday. The Slovenian point guard was missed for multiple reasons, but two stand out above the others: his ability to create offense and his influence on the fast break.

“When Goran went out, that seemed to slow [the tempo] down, at least with the starting group,” Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Now Eric’s the only real ball-handler in that group. Missing Goran probably hurts us in that respect.”

Hornacek added that if Dragic is ready to go tonight, he will start in the backcourt. Gerald Green, who is averaging over 13 points per game and 48.4 percent from three-point range, would come off the bench.