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Game Preview: Nuggets Look to Bounce Back In Game Against Detroit

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

The Nuggets look to capitalize on their final home game of the month when the Detroit Pistons visit the Pepsi Center on Thursday night.

The Pistons show up to the Mile High City struggling mightily, having lost 11 of their last 14 games. Still, they have a formidable frontcourt featuring Blake Griffin – who they got in a trade with the Clippers earlier this year – and Andre Drummond, who continues to be one of the better centers in the league. This is the first time the Nuggets face the Pistons with Griffin in the fold.

“They are struggling a little bit, in their last five games they are 1-4,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I’m expecting a great effort from them tonight. (Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is going to get them ready to play. Blake Griffin is an All-Star. Andre Drummond is the best rebounder in the NBA.”

On the flipside, the Pistons have a lot more to worry about in this matchup with the Nuggets than the first time around. There was no Paul Millsap in that game. There was no Nikola Jokić in that game. Yet, the Nuggets won, and did so with one of their best defensive performances of the season, holding the Pistons to 84 points on 35 percent shooting. They forced 21 turnovers that night and converted them into 22 points.

The Nuggets could use a repeat of that as they look to stay close in the playoff race. They enter the night 10th in the Western Conference, just a game behind Utah and San Antonio, and just two-and-a-half games out of fifth. So, there is a lot still to be determined, but the Nuggets want to get this game before they head out on a season-long seven-game, 15-day road trip.

“Hopefully, we can get some confidence before going out on the road,” forward Paul Millsap said. “This is a game we’ve got to get, especially going out on that long road trip.“

So what can the Nuggets do to give themselves a chance to win? Start with these things…

Keep the pace high. Detroit isn’t setting the world on fire in getting the ball up the court. They are 21st in the NBA in pace, they are 23rd in offensive rating, they are 17th in fast break points at 10.5 per game. If the game turns into a shootout, the odds of the Pistons being able to keep up are low. They are 2-20 this season when allowing 110 points or more this season. The Nuggets? They are 21-9 when going for at least 110 points this season.

Box out. One thing that could keep the Pistons in the game even if they are missing a ton of shots is their ability to rebound, and specifically what they can do on the offensive glass. They are a top 10 offensive rebounding team, collecting 11.2 of them per game, and they are 10th in second chance points at 13.0 per game. The effort to slow Detroit’s effectiveness on the offensive glass starts with boxing out Andre Drummond, who leads the league in offensive rebounding at 5.2 per game.

Even-out the defense. The Nuggets put one really good defensive quarter on the board in Tuesday’s loss to the L.A. Lakers – the second quarter. In it, they held the Lakers to 13 points on 3-of-18 shooting overall, 1-of-12 from the 3-point line, and forced seven turnovers, which they converted into eight points. Bottle that up and spread that over four quarters against the Pistons, and their odds of getting a victory rise exponentially.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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