Although the momentum the Denver Nuggets had built during the first two games of their homestand was halted by the Utah Jazz to end the weekend, the Mile High squad still has a prime opportunity ahead as the next three games keep the team at Ball Arena.
Denver (22-20) couldn’t keep up on the second night of a back-to-back against Utah but should be plenty rested for Wednesday’s matchup with the LA Clippers. The Nuggets cooled down offensively in Sunday’s loss after scoring over 130 points in each of the first two games of the homestand.
LA (22-23) continues to navigate the season without several key players, using an elite defense to remain at or around a .500 record. In the previous meeting between these two teams, the Clippers used a 25-point second-half comeback to steal an 87-85 victory on Jan. 11.
Denver won the first meeting of the season back on Dec. 26.
TUNE-IN: 8 p.m. MT, ESPN and Altitude TV, 92.5FM
Take care of the ball
One of the sticking points in Denver’s loss to the Clippers last week was the team’s struggles in taking care of the ball. 20 turnovers led to 22 Clippers points, with several of those mistakes coming in the third quarter as LA got back into the game.
The Nuggets have been inconsistent this season when it comes to taking care of the ball each time down the floor, something that will have to change Wednesday night at Ball Arena. It’s no surprise to find that the Clippers thrive in several areas on the defensive end of the floor, and one of those key areas is their ability to generate turnovers, as they rank 12th in opponent turnover percentage (14.4 percent). Denver will need to avoid mistakes in order to prevent easy scoring opportunities for LA’s offense.
Attack the glass
The Clippers have had clear strengths and weaknesses to begin this season, which one would expect for a team hovering around .500 on the year.
One of those vulnerable areas is on the boards, as the Clippers rank 27th in offensive rebound percentage and 30th in opponent offensive rebound percentage. While Denver has shared those struggles on the offensive glass (ranking 26th in offensive rebound percentage), the Clippers could be just the matchup for the Mile High squad to build an advantage on the boards.
The Nuggets have thrived on the defensive glass, ranking second in opponent offensive rebound percentage on the season. In last week’s meeting, Denver secured a significant 56-31 advantage on the boards, which included a 13-3 edge on the offensive glass. A repeat performance Wednesday night would go a long way in getting back in the win column for the Nuggets.
Defending the mid-range
Denver’s defense has tightened up in recent weeks, with Wednesday’s matchup presenting another opportunity for the Mile High squad to lock in on that end of the floor.
The Nuggets are up to 13th in the league in defensive rating on the season, per Cleaning the Glass, and a game against LA’s 27th-ranked offense should continue to help the Nuggets get in a rhythm on defense.
When it comes to defending LA’s offense, a big focus must be on the mid-range, where 34.2 percent of the Clippers’ total shot attempts have come from this season, the seventh-highest frequency in the league. Denver’s defense has been built with a focus on preventing shots at the rim or from deep, but a few adjustments will have to be made Wednesday night against the Clippers.