The Denver Nuggets have now dropped back-to-back games and three of their first four this season after falling 110-93 to the Charlotte Hornets. The Nuggets’ offense continues to struggle despite 18 points and 11 rebounds from Nikola Jokic. The starting backcourt of Gary Harris and Jamal Murray combined for 34 points, but the team shot just 38 percent.
The Atlanta Hawks lost their fourth straight game with a 91-86 defeat to the Chicago Bulls last night. Still without starters Dennis Schroder and Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli paced the team with 23 points off the bench. Kent Bazemore added 16 points, but was just 7-of-19 from the field. Over his last three games, Bazemore is averaging 17.3 points on 35 percent shooting.
Three keys to the game
Home-court factor – After a brutal opening slate wherein they played five consecutive road games, the Hawks finally get to play on their home court for the first time this season. It remains to be seen whether their home crowd can lift them up on the second night of a back-to-back
Nuggets’ offense – The offensive problems still persist for the Nuggets, who have scored over 100 points just once in their first four games of the year. Wilson Chandler continues to be a nonfactor, and they cannot find consistent production anywhere else in the lineup. Paul Millsap should be pumped up as he plays his first game back in Atlanta, and given all their inconsistency the Nuggets will need his offense to get the win.
Hawks’ defense – With Schroder out, the Hawks will have problems scoring, even against a Nuggets team that is struggling offensively. However, the Hawks do have the ability to make things difficult for Denver with their defense, which has remained somewhat respectable.
Matchup to watch
Gary Harris vs Kent Bazemore – Harris has been one of the few Nuggets who has played decently over the course of the season. Meanwhile, Bazemore is currently over his head as the Hawks’ de facto go-to guy along the perimeter with Schroder out, but he can do a job defensively to limit Harris’ effectiveness.
Nuggets projected starting lineup
PG – Jamal Murray | SG – Gary Harris | SF – Wilson Chandler | PF – Paul Millsap | C – Nikola Jokic
Hawks projected starting lineup
PG – Malcolm Delaney | SG – Kent Bazemore | SF – Taurean Prince | PF – Mike Muscala | C – Dewayne Dedmon
Nikola Jokic had a slow start to the season, but he’s picked it up recently. He’s had 47 points and 20 rebounds over his last two games. He now goes up against a Hawks team on the second night of a back-to-back that just gave up 16 points and 8 boards to Robin Lopez. This should be another good opportunity for Jokic to assert his dominance when the Nuggets need him the most.
It’s hard to trust either team at the moment, so the totals might be the better bet. There’s still no line set, but consider the under for this matchup. The Hawks will struggle to score, especially on the second night of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, it’s hard to see the Nuggets’ struggling offense completely having their way with a Hawks defense that remains capable. All in all, there doesn’t figure to be many points scored in Atlanta tonight.
The Nuggets bring down the Hawks, 96-85.
You can catch this game on Fox Sports Southeast and Altitude. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm Eastern.
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