The Nuggets will be in Dallas on Friday for the first of a two-game mini-series between the teams. Both teams are coming off of losses and hoping to get back in the win column, but for Denver, doing so would mean notching a victory without Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray who are confirmed to miss Friday’s game and could also miss Saturday’s due to entering league health and safety protocols.
For Dallas, it would mean bouncing back from one of their worst losses in recent memory against a horrible Rockets team that saw them have one of the worst offensive performances imaginable. Here’s to hoping!
It doesn’t get easier
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Dallas is catching a team who’s going to be without their best player. Sure seems like something that would be nice to take advantage of! However, when they played the Pelicans without Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, the Magic without Paolo Banchero, and the Wizards without Bradley Beal OR Kristaps Porzingis, they were left holding big, fat, ugly Ls.
Dallas’ schedule doesn’t look to get easier with matchups against Boston, Toronto, Milwaukee, and Golden State on the horizon, so it’s critical the team step up and take care of business in these games against shorthanded teams. With Luka Doncic set to return after getting a game off against Houston, hopefully the team can get the offense back on track.
Lie, cheat, steal
The offense was putrid against Houston without Luka, but Dallas was still in the game until the very end. Even in the last game Doncic did play in – a pulse-raising win against the Clippers – the offense was start and stop, and looked especially downtrodden in the second and third quarters. They've been able to keep themselves in games despite poor shooting performances because they’ve been generating a ton of possessions.
Dallas is already the slowest team in the league, keeping possessions to a minimum. So when they’re generating between 20 and 30 additional shot attempts per game, it has a huge effect on the outcome. Dallas turned the Clippers over 21 times and 20 against Houston. That helped create a shot differential of 16 and 27 field goal attempts in each game, respectively. Denver will be without their leading passer in Jokic, so ideally they’ll be able to keep this turnover trend rolling.
So far this season, the Nuggets are shooting the highest percentage on wide open threes at 45.5%. They don’t take a ton of threes per game, attempting just 31.6 per game (compare that to Dallas’ 39.9 per game). However, 12.7 of those are wide open. Denver knows how to generate good looks, and when they do, they convert on them.
Dallas will be without one of their best versatile defenders in Maxi Kleber, who took a hard fall against the Clippers and won’t be available. It’s going to fall to guys like Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith, and the young legs of Josh Green to make sure they’re rotating and not letting the Nuggets get off easy shots.
How to watch
You can broadcast or stream the game on Bally Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CST.