Preview: Denver Nuggets continue homestand vs. Atlanta Hawks

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyroNBA

Sometimes all you need is a little home cooking.

For the Denver Nuggets, a return to the Mile High City over the weekend has provided a boost, with the team having won the first three games of their homestand. Denver (7-4) pulled out a victory over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday despite missing both Nikola Jokić and Michael Porter Jr.

MORE: Takeaways from win over Pacers

The homestand continues Friday when Denver welcomes the Atlanta Hawks to Ball Arena. Atlanta (4-8) has struggled to begin the season, especially on the defensive end of the floor. The Hawks owned the 28th-ranked defense heading into Thursday’s slate of games, which has held back a squad that is coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

Denver and Atlanta split the season series during the 2020-21 campaign.

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TUNE-IN: 7 p.m. MT, Altitude TV and 92.5FM

Barton’s hot start

Outside of Jokić’s impressive start to the season, no one has performed better for the Nuggets than the team’s longest-tenured player, Will Barton.

Barton is averaging career-highs across the board, most notably in points per game (17.5), assists per game (4.4), field-goal percentage (49 percent), and 3-point percentage (43.3 percent). Barton has served as both an on-ball creator and off-ball scorer, blending both roles together to fill any holes for Denver.

With Jokić back Friday, the Nuggets won’t need to rely on the 30-year-old as much as they did Wednesday night, but Barton is certainly in a groove and showcasing his versatility on a nightly basis.

Let it fly from deep

Similar to Denver’s matchup against the Miami Heat to begin the week, the Nuggets should be able to get up a healthy number of attempts from deep Friday night against Atlanta.

Opponents have taken 40.8 percent of their shots from downtown against the Hawks this season, which is the fourth-highest frequency in the league. Although teams haven’t shot lights out on those attempts (35.2 percent, slightly above league average), it will provide Denver’s offense with an opportunity to find a rhythm from deep.

The Nuggets are coming off a 40 percent shooting night from beyond the arc against Indiana, and another successful shooting night could propel them to a fourth consecutive victory.

The turnover battle

Denver and Atlanta are near polar opposites when it comes to the possession battle this season.

On the offensive end, the Hawks have effectively limited mistakes, owning a 13.4 percent turnover percentage, which ranks sixth in the league. Meanwhile, Denver’s 15.5 percent ranks 22nd in that regard, although the Nuggets have slowly cut that number down in recent games.

The contrast continues on the defensive end, where Denver has had success forcing turnovers, as teams have coughed it up on 16 percent of their possessions against the Mile High squad, good for 11th in the league. Atlanta has rarely forced mistakes on the defensive end, owning the 27th ranked opponent turnover percentage at 13 percent.

Whichever team is able to win the turnover battle will have a key edge in Friday’s contest.

Friday’s game is Military Appreciation Night at Ball Arena, presented by Palantir Technologies.

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