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Wizards begin road trip Tuesday in Denver
On Tuesday night, the Wizards (5-9) begin a four-game West Coast road trip and one of the most difficult stretches of their entire season when they take on the Denver Nuggets (12-3). Tip is set for 9 :00 P.M. ET at the Pepsi Center. Washington, fresh off a three-game homestand that featured its first set of consecutive wins of the season, will face off against a Denver team that has won five straight and nine of its last 10 games.
Pepsi Center | 9:00 P.M. ET | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Bradley Beal, F – Troy Brown Jr., F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Nuggets: G – Jamal Murray, G – Gary Harris, F – Will Barton, F – Paul Millsap, C – Nikola Jokic
Wizards: John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out), Ian Mahinmi (right Achilles strain – out)
Nuggets: Bol Bol (left foot, injury management – out)
Can the Wizards maintain their early season scoring?
The Wizards currently hold the second-best offensive rating in the league (113.6), trailing only the Dallas Mavericks. Through the first 13 games of the season, Washington averaged over 120 points per game and hit that mark in five consecutive outings, including three games with 130-plus points. But on Sunday against the Kings, on a night when the defense played one of its best games of the season, the Wizards’ offense sputtered, scoring just 106 points. The Wizards attempted just 12 free throws and shot well below average from 3-point range, signs that Sunday could have been just an off night. Thus far, the Wizards offense has shown itself to be more just a collection of players on simultaneous hot streaks. The Wizards lead the league in assists per game, assist-to-turnover ratio and have gotten contributions from each member of the rotation. With a defense that has struggled to keep opposing offenses in check this season, the Wizards will need their offense to continue scoring at an above average rate.
Denver’s dominant defense
The Nuggets enter Tuesday’s matchup against the Wizards with one of the best defensive ratings in the league (102.6) and have held opponents under 100 points in seven of their last 10 games. Denver’s defensive success has manifested itself in the win column as well. The Nuggets currently sit at second in the Western Conference with a 12-3 record. In their 12 wins, the Nuggets defense is allowing just 97.5 points per game. In their three losses, however, they are allowing 118.7 points per game, a 21.2 points per game difference. The Wizards’ high-scoring offense will face one of its stiffest challenges all season, but if they are able to score at even a slightly below average rate, the Denver offense, which ranks just 15th in the league, may have a hard time keeping up.
Slowing down Nikola Jokic
Manning the paint for Denver on Tuesday night will be Nikola Jokic, perhaps the most uniquely skilled big man in the league. Jokic is coming off a 2018-19 season in which he averaged 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. While his numbers and usage rate are down this season, Jokic still finds more ways to impact a game than any other big man in the league. The five-year vet checks in at 7’0” and 284 pounds but finds passing lanes and orchestrates an offense with the adeptness of a point guard. Jokic is looking to become the first center in league history to average at least six assists in three difference seasons. Jokic has recorded 12 career triple-doubles, the most all-time by a center not named Wilt Chamberlain.