The Denver Nuggets are back in action Thursday night at Pepsi Center to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Where: Pepsi Center
When: 8:30 MST
Watch/Listen: TNT (Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller on the call) Listen: Altitude AM 950
Thursday night mark’s the Nuggets second look at Oklahoma City’s new big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. Denver lost to the Thunder 96-86 just a couple of weeks ago in their final game of the preseason. The most memorable part of that game was the physicality and the altercation between Westbrook and Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.
Westbrook was assessed a flagrant one and became even more disliked here in the Mile High City. Remember, Westbrook and Super Mascot Rocky have had issues ever since Westbrook stuffed Rocky’s half court shot in 2013.
Lets hope we see more Westbrook vs Rocky on Thursday night at Pepsi Center. As for Westbrook’s performance on the court, he’s currently averaging 20.1 points, 10.9 assists, and 9.3 rebounds per game. Westbrook is close to averaging a triple-double and already has two of those on the season. The 2016-2017 NBA MVP will be a tough match-up for both Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay. Westbrook is averaging over five turnovers per game though and is something the Nuggets might be able to take advantage of Thursday night.
Both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are tied for the team lead in points per game at 20.1. George and Anthony are both averaging over five rebounds and around two assists per game. George affects the game a little more than Anthony though because of his contributions on the defensive end of the court. George is currently averaging 2.4 steals per game and leads the Thunder is three-point field goal percentage at 38 percent. If the Nuggets are able to shut down the Thunders big three, they should be in for a successful evening.
The Nuggets are coming off a thrashing of the Nets on Tuesday night when Nikola Jokic dropped a career high 41 points. Tonights game will be the Nuggets fifth game on a current six game home stand that currently sits at 3-1. The Thunder have a record of 4-6 and have started the season 0-5 against Western Conference opponents. The Nuggets are 6-5 and are just 1-2 against Western Conference opponents after a heavy Eastern Conference schedule to start the season.
This is arguably the Nuggets biggest game so far this season when you consider the circumstances. It’s a nationally televised game against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. You have the storyline of Westbrook vs the city of Denver, the Thunder’s new big three, how Nikola Jokic plays after a career high night on Tuesday, and you have the national TV aspect as well. The game will also have a later tip-off at 8:30 MST, which flashes us back to when the Nuggets were on national TV all the time in the George Karl era. In the Karl era, if there was Thursday night basketball on TNT, you would always expect the Nuggets to be the late game and for the Pepsi Center to be rocking. That’s what the Nuggets are trying to get back too, and Thursday marks the first step into being a team that the city of Denver can rally around yet again.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.