The Denver Nuggets dropped to 1-2 on the season after losing a closely contested battle with the Washington Wizards, 109-104. After scoring just seven points in his first two games, Nikola Jokic broke out with 29 points to lead the Nuggets. However, the Nuggets’ starting backcourt of Gary Harris and Jamal Murray struggled, shooting just 5-of-18 from the floor and 0-of-8 on three-pointers. Murray continues to struggle with his shot, and is now down to 26 percent from the field through three games.
The Charlotte Hornets are also 1-2 after losing to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, 103-94. The Hornets remain shorthanded with the continued absence of Nicolas Batum, Michael Carter-Williams, and Julyan Stone. Rookie Malik Monk has also been a disappointment as he’s shooting a mere 18 percent from the floor in his first three games as a pro.
Three Keys to the Game
Denver’s perimeter play – The Nuggets have gotten some disappointing play from their starting perimeter players. Murray has been a disaster shooting the ball, while Wilson Chandler has yet to break double-digits in scoring this season. The Nuggets could use a lot more production from them, especially on the road.
Charlotte’s backcourt – Kemba Walker had an off-night against the Bucks as he had just 15 points, but he’s likely to bounce back. However, the Hornets absolutely need to get something out of their lottery pick Monk. They’re short on firepower as it is, so they need him and fellow rookie Dwayne Bacon to deliver more offense.
Denver’s bench – Will Barton and Emmanuel Mudiay have been outplaying their starter teammates thus far this season. They are the ones providing more energy and production off the bench, and must continue to do so for the Nuggets, especially if Murray and Chandler continue to struggle.
Matchup to Watch
Paul Millsap vs. Marvin Williams – Millsap has been the Nuggets’ most consistent player by some margin this season. He’s solid as a rock not only on offense, but also on defense. Marvin Williams has also been quite a reliable player for Charlotte over the past few years, but has had a slow start this season. He’ll need to step up and minimize the damage Millsap causes or at least play him to a draw for the Hornets to get the win.
Nuggets Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Jamal Murray | SG – Gary Harris | SF – Wilson Chandler | PF – Paul Millsap | C – Nikola Jokic
Hornets Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Kemba Walker | SG – Jeremy Lamb | SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist | PF – Marvin Williams | C – Dwight Howard
Jeremy Lamb is doing a creditable job for the Hornets as they battle through their current wing shortage. He’s shooting just 36 percent from the field, but is making up for his poor efficiency by putting up solid numbers of nearly 16 points and six rebounds. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could finally be back against Denver, but Lamb should continue to start and get a good share of shots.
Both teams have been a bit erratic in the early going, but the Nuggets have the best player on the floor (Jokic) and their offense is the most reliable unit on either team. They look like a good bet to get the win as 1.5-point road favorites.
The Nuggets top the Hornets in a close contest in Charlotte, 108-102.
Altitude TV and Fox Sports Southeast are showing this one. Tip-off from Spectrum Center is at 7pm ET.
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