Preview: Nuggets take on Mavericks hoping to extend season-high win streak

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

The Nuggets (9-7) are riding their longest win streak of the season and will hope to extend it to four games when they take on the Mavericks(8-8) in Dallas.

The Mavericks have a lot of potential, thanks to the star power of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but are 4-4 in their last eight games. They enter Monday’s contest coming off a surprise 133-108 defeat at the hands of the Houston Rockets Saturday.

Denver comes off an impressive back-to-back away sweep against Phoenix and is one of the NBA’s hottest teams during the same stretch, going 6-2 in its last eight games.

Projected starters: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton III, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokić

INJURY REPORT:

OUT
  
 Greg Whittington, Left Knee Arthroscopy.

TUNE IN: 6:30 p.m. MT, ALTITUDE

Here are the storylines to watch for: 

Key matchup: Kristaps Porzingis vs. Paul Millsap

Kristaps Porzingis could potentially face the Nuggets for just the third time since he was traded to Dallas in January 2019. The Latvian forward is listed day-to-day with a knee ailment and he presents plenty of challenges if he does line up Monday. 

Porzingis recently returned from injury for Dallas and is averaging 20.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.8 boards while shooting 49.5 percent from the field, including 33.3 from downtown. The Mavs are 3-3 in the games where the forward has suited up this season, but he is slowing inching back to his best. He had a 27-point, 13-rebound, four-assist stat line against the Pacers on Jan. 20, a 124-112 win for Dallas. 

If he does feature Monday, Paul Millsap could be the first of several players to defend Porzingis. The veteran Nuggets forward is averaging 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in just 23.4 minutes per game. He continues to be a floor-spacing threat for Michael Malone’s team, hitting 41.7 of his shots from downtown. 

Will fatigue be a factor?

Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray racked up a combined 167 minutes in the Nuggets two overtime wins over the Suns. Fortunately for the Nuggets, the team’s bench has dramatically improved over the last five games.

During that span, Denver’s reserves are sixth in the NBA in plus/minus at 1.7. Monte Morris has been a big part of the equation, averaging 12.6 points and 2.8 assists on 51 percent shooting.

Crash the boards!

Rebounding has been a critical part of the Nuggets’ three-game win streak, with the group averaging 55.3 boards a contest during the stretch (tied for first). Denver will need to ensure there isn’t any drop off in Dallas.

The Mavs are currently ranked 19th in rebounding in the NBA, averaging 44.1 boards per game on the season. Their struggles in containing opponents' offensive boards have proved costly as the team ranks 16th in that area. If the Nuggets are aggressive in that area, it could play in their hands.

Dallas is currently allowing opponents to convert 13.9 second-chance points per game, which is currently tied for 22nd in the league.

 

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