Preview: Denver Nuggets conclude back-to-back vs. Jazz

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyroNBA

Does an NBA season truly begin before the first back-to-back of the campaign?

The grind of an 82 game schedule will pick up for the Denver Nuggets this week with two sets of back-to-backs, beginning with Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz.

Tuesday’s matchup wraps up the first back-to-back of the season for Denver (2-1), who suffered its first loss of the season Monday night, 99-87 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Turnovers continue to plague Denver’s offense, while cold 3-point shooting (9-of-38) certainly didn’t help

MORE: Three takeaways from loss to Cavaliers

Utah (2-0) is fresh and rested, having not played since Friday. The Jazz once again sit near the top of the list of Western Conference contenders after making slight adjustments to their roster in the offseason, highlighted by the additions of Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside.

Utah won the season series 2-1 against Denver last season.

TUNE-IN: 8 p.m. MT, TNT and 950AM

Jokić vs. Gobert

The headlining matchup whenever these two teams face-off is the battle down low between Jokić and Rudy Gobert.

The reigning MVP got the better of Gobert when the two matched up last season, with Jokić shooting 20-of-30 from the field in the 19 minutes of action when he was directly guarded by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

In recent seasons, Utah has focused on staying home on shooters and taking away passing lanes when defending Denver’s offense, turning Jokić into more of a scorer. As MVPs tend to do, the Serbian big man has been able to take advantage and put up some impressive numbers against Gobert and the Jazz as of late.

The battle on the offensive glass

This matchup pits two of the better rebounding teams in the league against each other. Throughout the first week of the 2021-22 season, Utah has thrived on the offensive glass, owning an offensive rebound percentage of 29.7 percent, good for third in the league.

Although Denver has struggled to replicate its success on the offensive glass so far this season, the Nuggets have thrived on the other end of the floor, owning a top-10 defensive rebound percentage.

On the second night of a back-to-back against a rested Jazz squad, extra effort on the boards could make the difference Tuesday night.

Defending beyond the arc

To no one’s surprise, the Jazz continue to emphasize shots from downtown in their offense.

Through the first two games of the season, Utah has attempted 46.6 percent of its total shot attempts from beyond the arc, which ranks first in the league. Unsurprisingly, the Jazz conversely rank last in the frequency of shot attempts coming from the mid-range (20.6 percent), focusing instead on getting to the rim when the shots aren’t’ coming from downtown.

Denver has done a good job in limiting 3-point attempts to begin the season, but the matchup against Utah will test those early results. The Jazz have had success finding corner shooters when going up against Denver’s aggressive pick-and-roll scheme.

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