Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Game Preview

Game Preview: What to Watch For in the Nuggets Game at Detroit

DETROIT – The Nuggets look for their second win on this road trip when they face one of the NBA’s early-season surprises, the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit jumped out to a 14-6 record, rising to near the top of the Eastern Conference. And though they’ve hit some adversity – six straight losses – this remains a formidable basketball team, particularly in their new downtown home, Little Caesars Arena, where they are 8-4 this season.

"They’ve lost six in a row against some really good basketball teams,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “When you’re (14-12) and you’ve lost six in a row, that means you got off to a great start, which they did. …They’re still defending at a high level. Offensively they’ve fallen off a little bit.

“But it’s tough when you’re playing a long road trip for us, and you’re playing undermanned against a team that’s really (mad) and will have a great sense of urgency tonight. But, hey, what a great challenge. As long as we come out and compete and play hard and give ourselves a chance like we did in Indiana, that’s all we can ask from each other.”

The Pistons are led by Tobias Harris, who is out to the best start of his now-seven season career with averages of 18.8 points on 47.2 percent shooting overall and 45.4 from the 3-point line. The Nuggets, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back from an overtime loss at Indiana on Sunday.

Here are a few areas to watch as the Nuggets look to get back into the win column tonight..

Deciphering tricky pick-and-rolls: The actions that Detroit runs in order to generate open shots are things the Nuggets have seen before, most notably in their games against the Utah Jazz. The Pistons get into middle screen-roll action in order to get their guards into the lane, collapse the defense, and kick out to shooters. And they are very effective at it. They are among the NBA’s top spot-up shooting teams, and have a number of players that are knock-down jump shooters. The Nuggets have to be good at preventing dribble penetration at the point of attack and then getting out to 3-point shooters.

Scoring in the paint… and preventing paint points: This may be the most important part of the Nuggets defensive effort, given the sheer size of Pistons center Andre Drummond, who checks in at 6-foot-11 and 279 pounds. Drummond leads the NBA in rebounding at 15.3 per game, and the Pistons are eighth in offensive rebounds and 10th in second chance points. Defensively, Drummond averages 1.5 blocks per game, and is a constant force in blocking and altering shots. Can Nuggets guards finish in the lane, and can the team surround Drummond effectively enough to reduce his scoring impact in the post?

Get back to taking care of the ball: Turnovers had not been a problem for the Nuggets through the first three games of this road trip, but they came back in a bad way on Sunday afternoon in the loss at Indiana. The Nuggets had 22 turnovers in that game, as opposed to a total of 27 combined in the first three games on the road trip. The Pacers scored 34 points off of those turnovers, which equaled the number of points the Nuggets allowed off of miscues in the first three games of this trip combined. Taking care of the ball is a must to maximize their possessions.

INJURY REPORT: Nikola Jokic (ankle) and Paul Millsap (wrist) are out of tonight’s game at Detroit.

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

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