The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets take up arms once again to do battle. I took a trip down memory lane earlier today here, and shared our most vivid memories of this rivalry. An excerpt to whet your appetites:
The 12-26 Jazz are now 7-11 at home, but still only 2-5 against their own division. The Nuggets are aiming for the playoffs and at 19-17 are in the current 9th seed. They are a respectable 8-9 at home and a very commendable 7-3 against the other teams in the North West division. We've played twice so far and are 1-1, and will play two more times. The Jazz lost to the Nuggets 100-81 at home back on November 11th; and the jazz beat the Nuggets 103-93 in Denver. For the record the Jazz lead the all-time series 101-72, and the Jazz are a dominant 68-19 at home. In the playoffs the Jazz and Nuggets faced off four times, and each time the Jazz ended up beating the Nuggets: in '84 (3-2), '85 (4-1), '94 (4-3), and '10 (4-2). That's a 11-8 record there, or 4-0 if you are looking at series wins.
Yup, check out the post. Good times. The game tonight looks to be good too. The Denver Nuggets are on a five game win streak right now with victories against the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers (road), Boston Veltics, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Orlando Magic. In this span the Nuggets are averaging 119.6 ppg, and winning by a margin of +19.0 ppg.
Oh, AND DEY BE DOIN DIS WIF FIVE ROTATION PLAYAS OUT!
Remember at the beginning of the season when we had five rotation players out and we looked like the worst thing ever in the universe? Well, these guys are running ish with five guys out. Tonight the Nuggets will be without Danilo Gallinari (injured all season long), Andre Miller (communication game), Darrell Arthur (groin), JaVale McGee (needs to see the Wizard of Oz for like three or four things), and Anthony Randolph (ankle). The good news is that Wilson Chandler is going to return tonight (groin/hip). Oh yeah, that's right, they had SIX rotation guys out. Sure, one of them is healthy, but not contributing to the team. For the Jazz word just got out that Gordon Hayward is going to miss another game for his hip flexor injury, Marvin Williams will play.
The obvious injury advantage goes to the Jazz, though there are other factors to look at.
The Nuggets are thriving despite injuries by playing really well. And for the majority of the season this team has gotten things done. Despite missing some very good players they are #11 on offense in both PPG and Off RTG. They play at the 6th fastest pace. Their defense doesn't look good because they get into track meets and other teams score; but their Def RTG is top half in the league at #14. As a team they shoot pretty well from everywhere (FG%, 3PT%, eFG%), except the line (FT% is #24). They block a lot of shots, kill it on the offensive glass, and get to the line a lot. Despite playing such a frantic up and down game they don't turn the ball over that much.
How can they run so much? Well, they play good defense that isn't based upon causing turn overs (they are #27 on that), but instead on making you take bad shots. They have a lot of room to improve on with their defensive rebounding (#20 in DRB%), but they seem to make it work.
By comparison the Jazz are equally poor on offense and defense, and play at a very slow pace. The shooting values are all very sad, and the team is sloppy on offense (turning the ball over), rarely gets to the line, and is just scraping by with a 15th best offensive rebounding %. That #15 is the largest of our four factors on offense. Our defense makes Mark Eaton cry, and he has never done that before. Until this season.
Rookie head coach Brian Shaw has been an assistant for about as long as Tyrone Corbin has, and both are growing leaders on the sideline. The performance of the team favors the Nuggets, and I'd say the coaches are a wash. Ultimately it is going to come down to the players.
The M*A*S*H unit for the Nuggets are missing some key guys, but they still have some firepower that we'll have to deal with:
Lawson is still a blur, they have a ton of three point shooters -- and their injuries are localized at their big spots, which they can mitigate with their pace. Their healthy bigs are still more athletic than our healthy bigs. And also, because they are missing 3 (or 4 with Gallo) PFs and Cs it's obvious we have the size advantage. And because it's obvious to me, it's obvious that Corbin is going to adjust to what THEY do, instead of trying to utilize dumb luck. (Hey we have three potentially useful bigs in Favors, Kanter, and Gobert -- and they have three bigs, in total. Let's go small!)
The Jazz are missing their best player by the stat-sheet. Gordo missed his last game, but before that bombed for 37 points. He will be missed for sure. That's not to say our team should just fold. We have some good players too. LOOK!
|8||John Lucas III||1||27||17.4||4.9||1.1||1.4||0.6||2.3||0.4||0.0||6.4||16.9%||12.6%||3.5%|
Burke and Burks will start tonight again, and I hope they play better this time around. We'll need their speed and playmaking to counter Denver's assault.
We're healthy and at home. They are a better team and really hot right now. We are missing our best player. They are 7-3 against the Northwest division. Something's gotta give.
I predict a close game . . . and a potential Tank Oddity tonight.