Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets are back in action Monday night as they welcome a Western Conference foe back to Pepsi Center for the first time this season.
Where: Pepsi Center-Denver, CO
When: 7 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment/KWOF 92.5 FM
After two and half seasons with the Denver Nuggets, Jusuf Nurkic will play his first game at Pepsi Center in a different uniform. Nurkic has played fairly well in his first three match-ups against his former team, but this will be Nurkic’s first game against his former team on he road. With how Nurkic and the Nuggets split up at last years trade deadline, it’ll be interesting to see the type of reception he draws from the crowd before the game. Nurkic is currently averaging 14.4 points and eight rebounds per game.
The Trail Blazers come to Pepsi Center with a record of 25-21 and currently sit at sixth place in the Western Conference. The Blazers are led on offense by Damian Lillard who leads the team in scoring at 25.2 points per game and in assists at 6.6 per game. CJ McCollum is second on the team in scoring at 21.6 points per game and is shooting 42.3 percent from behind the three-point line. The Blazers two headed monster will present tough match-ups defensively for the likes of Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and Malik Beasley. If the Nuggets are able to shut one of those two down, then they have a good chance of being on top when the clock hits double zeros.
Gary Harris still leads the Nuggets in scoring at 17.1 points per game and is shooting a remarkable 49.4 percent from the field. Harris is also shooting just under 40 percent from behind the three-point line and is leading the team in steals with two per game. The energy that Harris brings on the defensive end of the court is one of the reasons he gets so many steals and it’s why he’s the sixth best in steals per game in the entire NBA. Harris will have a tough task against both Lillard and McCollum, but he’s rose to the occasion every time this season, so there’s no reason to expect anything less on Monday night.
The last time these two teams played was a little over a month ago and was a game in which the Nuggets snapped a four year losing streak up in Portland. Nikola Jokic played his best game against his former teammate in Nurkic scoring 27 points and also chipping in nine rebounds and six assists. Jokic consistency went at Nurkic all night and played one of his most dominating games of the season. That’s the type of performance the Nuggets will look for on Monday night as they’re looking to rise up in the Western Conference standings. With a current record of 23-23, the Nuggets are a half game out of eighth place in the West, and are just three games behind the Thunder for fifth in the conference. A win on Monday night would be big not only to get the Nuggets back on track, but to improve the teams playoff chances come early April.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.