The Denver Nuggets wrapped up their first week of games with a 1-1 record. Coming on the heels of a tough loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in which the Nuggets were unable to make plays down the stretch, Denver will look to bounce back this week against 4 potential playoff teams.
Monday, 31 October 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
The Nuggets open the week on the road, traveling to Toronto to face the Raptors. Despite finishing 2nd in the East last season, Toronto was unable to beat a subpar Denver squad, going 0-2 against the Nuggets. Denver will hope to carry the momentum from last year into this season's games. The Raptors have a pair of All Star guards in Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan, and one of the league's most underrated centers in Jonas Valanciunas. Demarre Carroll is also back in the mix for Toronto after missing 56 games last season due to injury.
For Denver to win this game, they'll need to play sound defense on Lowry and Derozan on the perimeter. Derozan is a master at getting to the free throw line, so the Denver defenders will need to be careful to avoid picking up any unnecessary fouls. Offensively, Valanciunas is not known for his interior defensive abilities, so look for the Nuggets to look to feed their Balkan big men early and often. Denver's perimeter players should also look to attack the rim as often as possible.
Thursday, 3 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
The Minnesota Timberwolves are easily the league's most popular up and coming team, a with such a talented and young roster, it's easy to see why. Karl Anthony Towns looks to have out of this world potential, Andrew Wiggins continues to improve as a scorer, and Zach Lavine is one of the most exciting players in the league. Add in newly drafted Kris Dunn and the hiring of former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, and it's not hard to see why many believe this team is going places.
However, Denver has a young a talented roster of their own. As is often the case with young teams, Minnesota was one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA last season s look for Denver to go on the attack offensively. If Denver can keep the ball moving, there will be openings as Timberwolves players will miss rotations. This is a great early season test to see how Denver matches up with another team on a similar timeline, and it looks to be a very exciting preview at what could be an intense division rivalry for years to come.
Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
Last season, the Detroit PIstons managed to play some good basketball, finishing with a 44-38 record en route to the 8th seed in the East. The primary catalysts for their success were point guard Reggie Jackson and center Andre Drummond. Pick and rolls involving those two were among the most efficient offensive plays in the league last season, and they gave defenses fits all season long. Coach and president Stan Van Gundy has done a great job putting complimentary pieces around their P&R centered offense, including Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
In order to slow down the PIstons offense, Denver's defensive rotations will need to be very crisp. Jackson is great at picking the right pass as the defense is helping, so the team defense of Denver will be very key. Jokic playing power forward means he'll spend a lot of time guarding Marcus Morris, which will be an interesting test for him. If Denver can keep Jackson out of the paint and force difficult shots, look for them to push tempo and try to get some easy points in transition.
Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 07:30 PM ET Away
Brad Stevens wasted little time in taking a seemingly unspectacular Celtics team back to the playoffs, cementing himself in the minds of many as one of the NBA's brightest young coaches. His Celtics team plays incredibly hard, particularly on defense, and their aggressive ball pressure style caused major problems for Denver last year. Isiah Thomas made his first all star team in 2015-2016, and he's blossomed into a very productive and dynamic player under Coach Stevens. Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley are two of the best defensive guards in the NBA, and the addition of Al Horford adds some much needed offensive punch. Many believe this Celtics team will finish in the top 4 of the East, so this is going to be a tough road test for the Nuggets.
The main key for Denver in this game is to protect the ball. Emmanuel Mudiay has struggled early with turnovers, and Boston's aggressive defense caused major problems for him last season. If Mudiay and the rest of the Nuggets can protect the ball and keep it moving, their should be easy buckets to be had. Nurkic is a significant match up problem for Boston, as they don't really have a big that can match his physicality. Look for Denver to feed him the ball on the low block, and don't be surprised if he dominates the glass in this game as well. Defensively, Isiah Thomas and Al Horford present a major challenge. It'll be important for the Nuggets to make them work for everything they get, and to play sound pick and roll defense.