Key Matchup vs. Denver Nuggets: Dwight Howard vs. Nikola Jokic

Two of the NBA’s top – albeit different – big men will be paired up against each other on Wednesday night when the Charlotte Hornets kickoff a three-game homestand against the visiting Denver Nuggets.

Offseason acquisition Dwight Howard has been dominant in his first three outings in the purple and teal, posting averages of 12.7 points, 17.3 rebounds (second in NBA) and 2.3 blocks (T-4th in NBA) per game. The 14th-year veteran is coming off a 22-rebound performance against Milwaukee on Monday night, the highest by any Charlotte player since Dec. 2013 (Al Jefferson).

On the opposite end, Denver will be turning to its versatile Serbian center, Nikola Jokic. The 2014 second-round pick is averaging 12.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists (most by any NBA center) through his first three appearances of the year. He also ranked fourth in the league last season with six triple-doubles, also the highest total for any player at his position.

Controlling the boards and limiting Jokic’s unique facilitating abilities will be imperative for the Hornets in picking up a seventh win in nine meetings with the Nuggets. Expect Howard – who has a real plus-minus of 5.0 points per 100 defensive possessions this season – to be a major part of the equation.