Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets take on the Phoenix Suns looking to climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
Where: Pepsi Center-Denver, CO
When: 7 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment-Altitude Sports Radio AM 950
Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers caused Nuggets fans to go in a tail spin on social media. Panic ensued as the Nuggets couldn’t execute in the closing seconds yet again and lost another tough contest that could affect them come playoff time in April. This is not time to panic though and the Nuggets are still set up nicely to make it back for the postseason for the first time in four years. 37 games remain in this Nuggets season and there is still plenty of time to right the ship.
Righting the ship starts on Friday night as the Phoenix Suns come to town with one of the worst records in the NBA at 16-29. The Suns have lost three in a row and are a team that ride or dies on young star, Devin Booker. Booker leads the Suns on offense averaging 25.2 points per game and shoots under just 40 percent from behind the three-point line. In the Suns last game against the Portland Trailblazers, Booker scored 43 points and shot 14-29 from the field.
Devin Booker with 21 straight points in the fourth quarter tonight🔥🔥🔥
I’m telling you this kid is the next Kobe pic.twitter.com/DebinIFc43
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) January 17, 2018
In the two teams last match up just a couple weeks ago, the Nuggets won 134-111 and did a great job slowing down Booker as he scored just 17 points on 4-13 from the field. Gary Harris was a big reason for that and is slowly becoming the Nuggets most important player. What Gary Harris give the Nuggets offensively and defensively is huge as he leads the team in scoring at 17.2 points per game, and in steals at two per game. In the Nuggets last three games, Harris has forced 10 steals and is coming off back to back games of forcing four steals. The Booker/Harris match-up will be a fun one to watch at Pepsi Center on Friday night.
The line-up the Nuggets roll out will be another topic of discussion as the Plumlee/Jokic starting front court isn’t panning out anymore. Jokic has been playing out of position at the power forward spot, while Plumlee starts at the five and forces Jokic to play a position he’s less comfortable with. It’s the same issue the Nuggets faced when they tried to play Jokic with Nurkic last season, it just doesn’t work. Not only does it fail the eye test, but the stats back it up as well.
Player Impact Chart for Nikola Jokic… pic.twitter.com/MT9ZFNz9y9
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) January 16, 2018
Playing Plumlee with Jokic going forward will ultimately just continue to cause problems for the Denver Nuggets and could potentially force the downward spiral to continue. We could easily see the same starting line-up out there against the Suns though as Jamal Murray is expected to miss his second straight game with a concussion. Emmanuel Mudiay helped fill in for Murray’s absence against the Clippers and scored 11 points in 15 minutes of action. Mudiay could be in store for more minutes against the Suns, but just to be safe the Nuggets have recalled two-way player Monte Morris for Friday nights game.
Two-way player Monte Morris has been transferred from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to our team. pic.twitter.com/senkSH9snO
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 18, 2018
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.