Preview: Denver Nuggets continue homestand vs. Heat

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyroNBA

It may not have been pretty, but the Denver Nuggets got back into the win column Saturday in a 95-94 victory over the Houston Rockets, with Nikola Jokić saving the day on the defensive end of the floor with a block as time expired.

Now the daunting remaining November schedule picks up for the Nuggets, who welcome the Miami Heat to Ball Arena Monday. Denver (5-4) still has to work out the kinks on the offensive end, with the Nuggets owning the 24th-ranked offense in the league heading into Sunday’s slate of games.

MORE: Takeaways from win over Rockets

Miami (7-2) has impressed to begin the season and will be one of, if not the most difficult challenger Denver has faced this season. The Heat rank fourth in both offensive and defensive rating through the first nine games, showcasing their ability to win games on both ends of the floor.

Denver won both meetings between the two teams last season, and the all-time series is tied at 34 wins apiece.

INJURY REPORT:

JAMAL MURRAY – LEFT KNEE INJURY RECOVERY. OUT.

VLATKO ČANČAR – LEFT HIP STRAIN. OUT.

MICHAEL PORTER JR. – LOW BACK PAIN. OUT.

MONTE MORRIS – LEFT PATELLAR TENDINOPATHY. PROBABLE.

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

The battle on the boards

Miami has had success in several areas to begin the season, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 7-2 start has been the dominance on the glass.

The Heat rank second in their own offensive rebound percentage (31 percent) and third in opponent offensive rebound percentage (20.8 percent). Simply put, Miami is grabbing a ton of rebounds on their own missed shots and not letting opponents do the same on the other end of the floor.

Meanwhile, Denver has not replicated its success on the offensive glass from past seasons, ranking 23rd in offensive rebound percentage this season. However, the Nuggets have been elite on the defensive glass, ranking 5th in opponent offensive rebound percentage. Keeping Miami off the offensive glass will be crucial Monday night.

Can Denver find a rhythm from deep?

You know the story by now. The Nuggets’ offense has struggled in several areas to begin the season, but the most noticeable has been the cold shooting from beyond the arc.

Denver ranks 29th in the league in 3-point percentage, having only connected on 29.1 percent of its attempts from downtown. Although teams haven’t shot well from deep against Miami this season (32.5 percent), the Heat could be the team that Denver needs to face to get into a rhythm from behind the arc.

Miami ranks 30th in opponent 3-point attempt frequency this season, as teams have taken a staggering 45.6 percent of their total shot attempts from downtown this season when matching up against the Heat. It’s safe to say that the Nuggets will at the very least be able to get up plenty of attempts Monday night.

Trips to the charity stripe

Another stark contrast between these two teams relates to how much time they spend at the free-throw line.

On the offensive end, the Heat rank second in free-throw rate (number of free throws made per 100 field-goal attempts), while Denver ranks 30th in that regard. However, it’s the reverse on the defensive end, as Miami has put opponents on the free-throw line quite a bit this season, ranking 25th in opponent free-throw rate. Denver ranks sixth in that category, effectively limiting the number of trips opponents take to the charity stripe.

Something will have to give Monday night, which could go a long way in making a difference in the result.

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