The Denver Nuggets (24-18) are following their six-game win streak with a two-game losing streak. The first of the two losses came at the hands of the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder (32-8) in OKC. Now the Thunder will make their way to Denver and into the Pepsi Center for the 2nd of four meetings this season.
The Nuggets are coming off a disappointing loss to the Washington Wizards. The Wizards bested the Nuggets at their own game: rebounding. Denver was outrebounded by 11 on Friday night in the loss. Kenneth Faried is hoping to get back on track after having sub-par rebounding games, only averaging 4.0, in the two losses. He’ll be looking to take them away from Serge Ibaka, who is playing great under the basket as of late. Ibaka is averaging 10.0 boards in the past two games.
The Nuggets scorers, Andre Iguodala in particular, have been struggling to keep up the past two games. Ty Lawson has played strong in the first half of the past two games but only scored 2 points in the second half of Friday night’s game. Gallinari is lingering around his season average of 16.6 after scoring at least 20 in five of six games during the winning streak. Kosta Koufos is hoping to anchor the Nuggets in the paint again against OKC. The last meeting he had 16 points and 9 boards.
The Thunder are coming off a game where Kevin Durant scored a career-high 52 points. He and Russell Westbrook have been scorching defenses all season and the last meeting with the Nuggets was no different. Westbrook scored 32 on Wednesday while Durant scored 20. Kevin Martin also added 20 points off the bench. OKC got after the Nuggets and forced turnovers and then they capitalized on them. The Thunder scored 28 points off of turnovers and they won by 20.
This time around, the Nuggets will look to take better care of the ball and slow down Westbrook while keeping Durant in check. The Thunder will be looking to do the exact same thing they did the last game.
Key Stat to Watch: Deep Balll.
In the last game, the Thunder hit 9 three’s. They shot almost 50 percent from behind the arc while Denver continued to struggle from deep. The Nuggets only made 2 of 15, shooting only 13.3 percent. The Nuggets have struggled in this category all season but they generally make up for that by not turning the ball over and scoring fastbreak points. Look for them to focus more on taking care of the ball and stopping the Thunders’ shooters.
Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m. MST (8:00 p.m. ET) at the Pepsi Center in Denver.