Denver Nuggets Look to Bounce Back against Atlanta Hawks

After a discouraging loss, the Denver Nuggets seek both revenge and redemption against a weak & beat up Atlanta Hawks team.

Denver Nuggets fans surely remember the painful loss against the Hawks early in the season. The Nuggets were out rebounded, out shot, and out played. Trae Young dropped 42 in an 8-13 night from three-point range. It was a similar story the other night against the Wizards. After just hitting a trap game and losing, the Nuggets should look to come back strong against a weak opponent.

There are several keys in this game, and definite objectives to aim for.

Contain Trae Young:

The aforementioned performance by Trae Young was the primary reason for the previous loss. The Nuggets had no answer for his shooting. His gravity, how he warps the defense with his shooting threat, allows him to facilitate at an elite level as well, resulting in 11 assists for him in this game. Trae Young and Kevin Huerter combined to make as many threes as the entire Nuggets team did (11) in this game.

It’s uncertain how the Nuggets could do this. Perhaps assigning Gary Harris to be the primary defender on Young could help, but even he struggled with a speedy, scoring guard recently in Ish Smith, possibly because he’s still banged up. Double teaming Trae is a difficult and risky strategy noting his elite passing.

Deploying Torrey Craig at the 2 is a possibility as well, as he’s been Denver’s traditional defensive matchup specialist. Doing this, however, could possibly stall the offense and kill the spacing.

There could be one way to remedy this.

Play Michael Porter Jr:

Here is what Michael Malone said about MPJ’s minutes in the future –

Something notable here, (aside from the minutes goal), is the fact that Malone says that often, Michael Porter Jr is a mismatch nightmare for opponents. The Hawks are no exception. Every one of their qualified wing players (Hunter, Parker, Reddish) are negative defenders by PIPM. A high scoring 6’10” wing should exploit that successfully.

Coach Malone should not shy away from his 25 minute goal in this game. Something that I’ve noted before is the excellent rebounding ability that Porter possesses. He is in the 100th percentile and 99th percentile among wings in OReb% and DREb% respectively, (Per Cleaning the Glass).

Above, I mentioned the possibility of deploying Torrey Craig as a defensive measure. To offset the lack of offense that he provides, Michael Porter could play alongside of him.

The Bench needs to produce:

Against the Indiana Pacers a couple of games ago, the bench unit came in and cleaned up for the starting unit. It was Michael Porter Jr’s second breakout game and he helped tremendously.

Yet, against the Wizards, the bench unit is what killed them. Every starter was either even, or positive in single game plus-minus, and every bench member with legitimate minutes was severely in the negatives. In the initial game against the Hawks, no bench members were positive by plus-minus.

In order to survive the Hawks tomorrow, the bench needs to shore up both it’s defense and scoring. Against the Wizards, Denver’s bench scored 32 points. This is in contrast to the 32 points scored by Washington’s bench guard Ish Smith who scored 32 himself. Denver Nuggets legend Brandon Goodwin will be coming off the bench for Atlanta tomorrow. His archetype as a speedy guard is something the Nuggets struggle with.

Overall:

The Hawks have a total of five players either questionable or probably for tomorrow: Jabari Parker, John Collins, DeAndre Bembry, Cam Reddish, and Damian Jones.

With a team lacking depth to begin with, the Denver Nugget should not fall into the same mental trap that they did the last game.

The Nuggets should aim to win by a large margin to reset their mentality and gain some momentum headed into a difficult game on the road in Dallas.

Next: Denver Nuggets 2020 New Year’s Resolution
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