Nuggets-Raptors Preview

Three seems to be the magic number for the Denver Nuggets, as they’ve now suffered their third three game losing streak this season. After being pounded 122-103 at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, Denver will look to bounce back on Monday night when they face the 4-13 Toronto Raptors at home. Tipoff is set for 7:00 PM mountain time, the game will be shown on Altitude Sports per usual.

Denver should win this game fairly easily but, with the way they’ve been playing as of late you never know which Nuggets team your going to get. This team suffers from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide syndrome. Toronto is in the bottom half of the league in points per game(96.2), points allowed(101.2) and rebounds per game(40.9), which are all big factors in them having only won four out of their first seventeen games. A couple bright spots though for this Raptors team this year have been the play of  guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Lowry is relishing on his new team averaging career highs in points(16.4), rebounds(6.0, he’s the leading rebounder for the Raptors currently), steals(1.8) and three-point shooting(38.5%). DeRozan has also stepped up his game, averaging career highs in points(18.4), rebounds(4.9) and three point shooting(32%), his match-up with Iguodala will be a interesting one.

In order for the Raptors to win this game, their gonna need big games from Lowry and DeRozan but, primarily from Lowry. Lowry could take advantage of what could be a mismatch against Ty Lawson, given the poor play from Lawson this season. Lawson’s playing a average of 36.5 minutes per game(which is a team high) but, in seeing more minutes all Lawson has been is less productive. He’s posting career low’s in shooting(40%), three point shooting(24%) and free throw shooting(60%), while also averaging less points(13.2) and rebounds(2.6) than last season. Lawson has been far from efficient as well averaging a career high in turnovers(3.2 per game) this season. He continues to show a lack of confidence on the offensive end, while always hesitating to attack the defender or the rim. This match-up could potentially end up deciding whether the Nuggets walk away with their fourth straight loss or a much needed win at home.

This game could be a great way for the Nuggets to regain their rebounding mojo back so to say, as in the past three games Denver has been outrebounded 120-116. The Raptors however are one of the ten worst rebounding teams in basketball right now, where as Denver will enter Monday night’s game as the 2nd best rebounding team in the league(46.3 per game). Toronto will have little to no chance in this game if they can’t get some good rebounding production from their two main big’s, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors starting frontcourt is only averaging a combined 10.3 rebounds per game this season, Kenneth Faried averages 10.5 rebounds per game himself. So as you can tell the Nuggets should have a pretty sizable advantage on the glass and as long as the frontcourt shows up, Denver should have no problem in controlling the boards and ultimately the game as well. A big thing to watch in this game will be how the Nuggets rotate on defense and defend the three point line. Denver is currently giving up the 3rd highest opposing three point percentage at 39.5%, on the flip side the Nuggets are only hitting 33% of their three point field goal attempts which is the 6th lowest currently in the NBA. This could be a concern for Denver in this game as Toronto averages 20.3 three pointer’s a game(12th most in the NBA), while making 35% of their three point field goal attempts(18th in the NBA). This would be a nice time for Denver to finally slow a team down from the perimeter, while actually making some three’s for once.

When it’s all said and done, I think the Raptors will put up a fight but, the Nuggets will end up putting their three gaming losing streak to rest. Denver should have little to no problem in controlling the glass in this game with Faried, McGee, Koufos, Gallinari and Iguodala all grabbing up boards over a weak Toronto front line. This should allow Denver to control the tempo of the game, score in transition,  score off of offensive rebounds and take some pressure off of their defense as the Raptors shouldn’t have many offensive rebounds or second chance possessions. I have a feeling Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari will have big games here for Denver, while I expect Ty Lawson to battle and ultimately struggle against Kyle Lowry which could spell trouble for the mile high crew. Lastly I’m really interested to watch the DeRozan-Iguodala and McGee-Valanciunas match-up’s, both should be really fun to watch and will be big determining factors of this game’s outcome. Us Nuggets fan’s can only hope Denver will show up and end their three game skid, the Toronto Raptors sure present a great opportunity to do just that.

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Tags: NBA Basketball Denver Nuggets Losing Streak Toronto Raptors George Karl Kenneth Faried Danilo Gallinari Andre Iguodala JaVale McGee Ty Lawson Kyle Lowry DeMar DeRozan Andrea Bargnani Jonas Valanciunas

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