Edit by: Blake Kemple (@BucketsBlak3)
The Nuggets seven game road trip makes a stop is Washington on Friday night in a matchup against Bradley Beal and the Wizards.
Almost every game here on out is a must win for the Nuggets and the team is looking to build off their dismantling of the Bulls Wednesday night in Chicago. The Nuggets followed up two disappointing games to start their road trip with a 135-102 victory over the Bulls and are now looking for their second straight road win Friday night in Washington.
The Nuggets next four opponents are all playoff teams in the Wizards, 76ers, Raptors, and the Thunder. The Wizards come in with a record of 40-31 and sit at the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington’s all-star point guard John Wall has been out since January 31st after he had surgery on his knee, and surprisingly the Wizards have thrived with Wall out of the lineup. During that stretch, the Wizards have a record of 14-9 and have had a number of guys step up without Walls’ presence in the lineup.
Walls’ absence has really allowed Bradley Beal’s game to thrive as he’s now the Wizards main offensive weapon on a nightly basis. Beal’s averaging 23.2 points per game and has started in all 71 of the Wizards games this season. Beal’s a scorer and shoots over 18 shots per game, while still shooting an impressive 46.5 percent from the field. He’s a guy that Gary Harris would usually be matched up against, but the Nuggets won’t have that option on Friday night.
Gary Harris (knee) could be back for the Philadelphia or Toronto games, #Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. Still, while Harris is doing a little more on the side, he hasn’t done a ton of anything outside of some jogging. So there is a ways to go.
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) March 21, 2018
Another guy whose stepped up in Wall’s absence is Tomas Satoransky, whose shooting a team high 45.3 percent from behind the three-point line. Satoransky only averages seven points per game, but could be one of those surprise guys that gives the Nuggets fits on Friday night.
The Nuggets will still be without Gary Harris who will miss his fourth straight game with a knee sprain. Harris will now have missed the first four games of the Nuggets road trip and there’s no telling whether or not he will return before the trip is over or not. Harris still leads the Nuggets in points per game at 17.7 and in steals per game at 1.8. The Nuggets certainly missed Harris’s offense in the first two games of the trip, but the team has found an offensive groove in their last two outings scoring a combined 276 points against the Heat and Bulls.
According to fivethirtyeight.com, the Nuggets playoff chances still sit at 16 percent with 10 games remaining. With a record of 39-33, the Nuggets sit at tenth in the conference and are a game and a half behind the Utah Jazz for the eighth seed in the West. Every game becomes more and more crucial for the Nuggets and the teams final four games on this road trip certainly aren’t a cake walk. The Nuggets are in a spot in their schedule where they’re playing some high level basketball, which will make these final weeks of the season even that more entertaining.
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage of the Nuggets and Wizards.