Game Preview: Nuggets Continue Home Stand Against Mavericks
Coming off a feel-good, bounce-back performance on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Denver Nuggets look to build on that momentum when they welcome the Dallas Mavericks to town.
Denver (44-22) used strong ball movement and 3-point shooting to comfortably defeat the Timberwolves. The Nuggets finished with 40 assists and shot 60 percent from beyond the arc as Minnesota could not keep up with Denver’s high-powered offense.
The Mavericks (27-40) come into tonight’s matchup on a six-game losing streak and are just 1-9 in their last ten games. Despite Luka Dončić’s strong production this season, the Mavericks are just 4-13 since they made the blockbuster trade for Kristaps Porzingis in late January. Porzingis is unlikely to play at any point this season as he recovers from a torn-ACL.
The Nuggets will have to be aware of Dončić at all times, as the rookie has stepped up his production since the All-Star break. In the eight games he has played since the break, the 20-year-old is averaging 22.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and six assists per game.
Denver won the first two games against Dallas and will look to sweep the season series against the Mavs for the first time since the 2008-09 season. In both wins against the Mavericks this season, Denver has had seven players score in double-figures.
Here are some keys to the game:
Protect the home court: Not only is Denver one of the best home teams in the NBA with a 28-6 record at Pepsi Center, the Mavericks struggle mightily on the road, owning a 6-27 record away from American Airlines Arena this season. With nine of the last 16 games on the road for the Nuggets, it is crucial they take advantage of the remaining home games on the schedule, especially when facing teams that are outside of the playoff picture.
Continue to move the ball: Tuesday night’s win was an eye-popping performance for Denver’s offense. With 40 assists on 51 made baskets, the ball was flying around the court and consistently finding the open shooter. “After the last couple of days, with the film sessions harping on ball movement, being selfless and playing for each other, for us to get 40 assists, it was refreshing and fun to watch,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. The Nuggets will want to attack Dallas’ 18th-ranked defense by continuing to move the ball.
Make others beat you: Like Nikola Jokić, Luka Dončić leads the Mavericks in points, rebounds and assists per game. It’s rare to find players that do-it-all for their teams, but the two Europeans are without question the engines that drive their respective teams. For the Nuggets, this means it will be important to force Dončić’s supporting cast to make plays and knock down shots. Tim Hardaway Jr. is the second-leading scorer for the Mavericks, averaging just 14.7 points per game.
Tonight’s game will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. MT and will be broadcasted on TNT. Fans can listen on Altitude Radio, 92.5 FM