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NBA Preseason 2015: Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz - Game Preview

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Game time: 7:00 PM MT
TV: Nope
Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Utah Jazz (2-4) go up against the Denver Nuggets (4-2) in the last game of the preseason for these division rivals. Between them the two have a few Northwest Division banners to their name, but in reason seasons the two actual teams 'from' the Northwest have done the most damage: the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder). In addition to sharing a mountain range these two teams have also shared the shame of being lottery teams for a number of seasons in a row. Will that streak end for either team this season? We'll have to play 82 games that count to find out. But before that we still have to play one more that doesn't -- tonight's game. (Which isn't even on TV . . . because . . . reasons.)

I'd like to point out the similarities between these two clubs do not end with their geographic location and recent difficulties in the W/L column. Both have young, exciting, athletic point guards leading them in Dante Exum and Emmanuel Mudiay; of course, only one of them is going to be playing this season. Furthermore, both teams have athletic and exciting bigmen. The club that's probably best at getting their point guards to manufacture points for their bigs will be the stronger side tonight.

Of course, that is, unless the wings from both teams decide to take matters into their own hands. Quin Snyder and Mike Malone both run Spurs-ian systems (because, duh, same coaching tree). That means ball sharing. And that means a lot of sets are wing initiated. The Jazz have an edge with Gordon Hayward (and Alec Burks) (and Rodney Hood) over what the Nuggets bring to the table. However, Denver really knows how to make their three point attempts, which always can keep a team in a game, or keep a team out of threatening distance.

In the scouting report we got to look at the Nuggets preseason numbers. And, well, they are eye opening. Jameer Nelson and Mudiay power their team to a number of easy baskets and assists. And while they don't 'look like' they have a star on their team right now, they have lots of legit rotation players that can really help a team win some games. In a way the Nuggets are like the Jazz yet again. Utah isn't supposed to have a star this season either, however the closest thing for both teams could be Gordon Hayward. However, like the Nuggets, the offense his coach runs is a team oriented one. He's not going to win any games without the other four guys on the court with him. And the box scores will be evidence of that.

Denver has always played a little faster than Utah, but our Jazz are supposed to push the pace a little more this season. Tonight's game will be fun -- you know if we could watch it -- as both teams try to find a place for themselves in the crowded Western Conference.

Utah should win, but will they?

We'll find out.

Injuries:

  • Randy Foye did not play on Sunday, with a hamstring injury. I do not know of his status for tonight
  • Jusuf Nurkic is rehabbing his knee and will be out for a while still
  • Dante Exum is out for the season

During the preseason the Nuggets also had injuries to Darrell Arthur (right knee bone bruise), Erick Green (left knee strain), and Oleksiy Pecherov (right soleus strain, uh, I mean calf for those of us out there who are normal human beings). I expect most everyone to be in game shape for tonight, even if Mike Malone doesn't play everyone. I assume the same for Quin Snyder.

Key Battleground:

Free Throw line. If the Jazz are more aggressive they can get to the line on this Nuggets team that doesn't appear to have an active shotblocker right now. If they can make their free throws it could make this game much easier for the team. I feel like this free throw attempts and makes issue is going to be something I write about quite a bit this season.

Marquee Match-up:

Alec Burks vs. Randy Foye. Just because.

Prediction:

If a game is played and it's not televised does it even count? Nope. Just like all the preseason games.

GO JAZZ GO!