The Denver Nuggets will look to take care of business on Thursday night as they take on a rebuilding Chicago Bulls team.
Where: Pepsi Center-Denver, CO
When: 7 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment-Altitude Radio AM 950
The Chicago Bulls are riding a six-game losing streak and currently have the worst record in the NBA at 3-16. The Nuggets are coming off a game in which they were embarrassed in Utah and need to get back on track with a win over a lesser opponent. Denver’s record currently sits at 11-9, which puts them at sixth place in Western Conference.
Nuggets back-up center Mason Plumlee sounded off on the team after Tuesdays loss in Utah.
Very choice words from Mason Plumlee on the Nuggets. “We have no leadership right now. It’s on the players”. Watch the postgame show on @AltitudeTV
— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) November 29, 2017
A leadership issue is certainly a problem for a Nuggets team that’s looking to make it back to the playoffs after a four-year absence. The Nuggets waived veteran point guard Jameer Nelson at the beginning of the season and signed veteran forward Richard Jefferson. Nelson was often praised over the last few seasons for the leadership he brought to the basketball team and the steady play he brought on the court. Jefferson has appeared in just five games for the Nuggets this season and has only averaged 5.6 minutes per game. With the Nuggets turnovers continuing to be an issue, especially by players at the point guard position, and with the team having no leadership apparently, the release of Nelson is becoming more curious by the day.
Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic looks to be the most likely candidate to lead the team with Paul Millsap expected to miss significant time with a wrist ligament injury. Jokic isn’t known for being the most vocal guy in terms of leadership, but can do volumes with his play on the court. The Nuggets offense runs through Jokic, and if he’s not performing well like what happened against Utah, then the team is going to have issues. Jokic will have to be the Nuggets bell cow with Millsap out, and that starts with having a bounce back game against the Bulls tonight.
Jokic still leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists with 15.9 points, 11 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. Jokic will match-up against Bulls big-man Robin Lopez, who is averaging 12.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Gary Harris will look to back-up a strong performance against Utah and will face off against Bulls leading scorer Justin Holiday. Holiday is averaging 14 points per game, leads the Bulls in minutes per game at 34.2, and shoots an efficient 36 percent from behind the three-point line.
Another player the Nuggets will have to look out for is Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen is second on the Bulls in minutes played at 30.6, and is second on the team in points per game at 14.3. Markkanen plays both forward spots and will be matched-up against Kenneth Faried, Trey Lyles, and Juancho Hernangomez.
Juancho replced Wilson Chandler in the Nuggets starting line-up in Utah as Chandler was out with lower back pain. All indications point to Chandler being held out yet again on Thursday and should open the door for another Juancho start. Two-way player Torrey Craig is still up with the Nuggets and may be in store for some playing time against the Bulls with Chandler out. Craig made his debut against the Jazz and went scoreless in six minutes of action.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.