Paul Millsap returns to Atlanta as the Denver Nuggets look to return to last season’s form against the Hawks.
When: 5:30PM MST
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta GA
TV/Radio: Altitude 2 and KKSE Altitude Radio AM950
After whiffing on several potential big trades this summer, the Denver Nuggets finally landed their big fish when they successfully courted the 32-year old All-Star, Paul Millsap, in free agency. But through four games, this big fish has made a relatively small splash.
Millsap is averaging just 15.5 points and 7 rebounds per game on .308 percent from deep. Not awful, but not the player we’ve come to expect. He’ll hope to get back on track on Friday night as the Nuggets (1-3) pay a visit to his old team, the Atlanta Hawks (1-4).
The two teams enter Friday night’s game with similar records despite a massive gap in expectations headed into the season. Denver added Millsap and is looking to improve upon an encouraging year that featured the birth of a devastating offense. They’re aiming for the playoffs.
Atlanta, obviously, lost Millsap—and they traded Dwight Howard away as well. They’re a team full of young players and this organization does know how to develop players. But few, if any of those young guns are true blue chippers. Atlanta is finally looking to hit the reset button.
The Nuggets are coming off of a rather strange performance against Charlotte. They got rocked. Plain and simple. But it was a game in which the difference seemed as simple as the shots falling, or not. The Nuggets are prone to beating themselves: turnovers, poor defense, a lack of focus late in games. But not last game. They simply missed their shots and buckled under the weight of all those Charlotte threes.
They’ll look to build off of the few positives against Charlotte. They actually managed to tie the Hornets in both total turnovers and rebounds. They outscored Buzz City by 22 points in the paint as well—an area they really struggled to defend in the preseason. The difference was just the threes. 43 percent for Charlotte, 23 percent for Denver. That’s a hard game to win.
Luckily, Atlanta shouldn’t provide anywhere near the threat from deep that Charlotte somehow mustered up on Wednesday. Marco Belinelli has been a revelation, shooting over 50 percent from deep on 5.6 attempts per game. That’s actually absurd. But the rest of the team struggles from beyond the arc. Their leading scorer for example, Dennis Schroder, is shooting just 11 percent from deep on three tries per game. That’s also absurd—but the bad kind. The team shoots 34.2 percent from deep, good for 12th worst in the league.
The key to a victory in Atlanta is simple. It’s not the seemingly obvious answer either: a monster revenge game from Millsap. No, the Nuggets just need to play their game. The shots will be there tonight. This time, they just need to fall.