The Denver Nuggets are back on national TV and are looking to avenge an early season loss at the hands of the Utah Jazz.
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena
When: 8 p.m. MST
TV/Radio: ESPN-Altitude Sports and Entertainment-Altitude 950 KKSE
A battle of Northwest Division opponents on Tuesday night will be shown nationally on ESPN and will be the Nuggets third nationally televised game of the season so far. The Nuggets are currently 2-0 on national TV after a great victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and a thrashing of the New Orleans Pelicans just over a week ago. Denver currently sits in sixth place in the Western Conference with a record of 11-8. The Jazz are chasing the Nuggets and are currently eighth in the West with a record of 9-11. Utah is still without star center in Rudy Gobert and leaves the Jazz with big man Derrick Favors in charge of Nikola Jokic. Favors scored 14 points in the two teams first match-up this season and is now averaging 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Rodney Hood comes off the bench for the Jazz and leads the team with 17.7 points per game. Hood shoots over 40 percent from behind the three point line and also shoots an astonishing 92 percent from the free-throw line. Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio leads the team in assists with 5.1 assists and is also very active on defensive end of the floor and leads the Jazz with 1.7 steals per game. In the teams opening meeting this season, Rubio dished out ten assists and had two steals.
Jazz rookie shooting guard Donovan Mitchell drew the start for the Jazz in the two teams first match-up because of a Rodney Hood stomach issue. In that match-up, Mitchell scored 10 points on just 3-11 shooting and also contributed four assists. Since that game, Mitchell has really grown as a player and has been a fixture in the Jazz’s line-up. Mitchell is now averaging 14.8 points per game and is ranked third in rookie scoring behind Ben Simmons and Kyle Kuzma. Mitchell is playing 28.2 minutes per game and is shooting 38 percent from the field, 34 percent from behind the arc. Remember that Mitchell was the player the Nuggets traded away in this past years draft, a trade that netted the Nuggets Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon. Mitchell seems to be growing into a potential superstar and will be a fun player to watch on Tuesday night.
Nuggets center Nikola Jokic still leads the Nuggets in all three major statistical categories and is averaging 16.3 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. With no Rudy Gobert for the Jazz, Jokic should be in for a big night against the Jazz’s depleted front court. Another name to watch on Tuesday night is Gary Harris. Harris is coming off a game where he had four steals against the Grizzlies and really affected the game defensively. Harris is averaging 1.9 steals per game and will have some interesting match-ups on Tuesday night with having to try and stop Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell.
This quick one game road trip for the Nuggets will lead into a two game home stand this week against the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. After that two-game home stand, the Nuggets will embark on a tough six-game home stand that’ll make stops in Dallas, New Orleans, Orlando, Indiana, Detroit, and Boston.
This Jazz game will be the Nuggets twentieth game of the season and gets the team to the quarter mark of the season. The last two seasons the Nuggets have been six games under .500 at the end of 20 games and its haunted them in the playoff race near the end of the season. This season, the team has figured out how to finish those close games, which is something they couldn’t figure out the last couple of seasons. With the recent injury news on Paul Millsap it’ll certainly be tough to stay afloat in the tough Western Conference for the next three months. But, this Nuggets team seems to have a different moxie then the teams of the past and will have another tough test against a Utah Jazz team tonight.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.