The Denver Nuggets are coming off a bad loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Play first back to back versus well rested Utah Jazz.

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The Denver Nuggets could have used four days off to get things right after a 99-87 loss to the Cavaliers at home. Instead, they get to fly on a red-eye and face a Utah squad that has just been hanging out since Friday. The Nuggets turnover woes came to ahead in their matchup with a team that just took Evan Mobley 3rd-overall in this past year’s draft.

They now take on heated rival Utah Jazz on the road in a stretch that has the Nuggets playing 4-games in 5 days. But this is the pros, no crying over the scheduling. You just play the games they put on the calendar. This will be an early test of this Nuggets team’s resiliency. Will they rebound and play with the same energy that led to a 2-0 start? Or will they continue to sulk and look lethargic like the way that got Michael Porter Jr. called out by Coach Malone in his post-game presser? I believe in the former.

Here is a Denver Nuggets/Utah Jazz team comparison courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

Both teams come in down their star PG, we all know about Jamal Murray, but Mike Conley is also on the IL with a sore achilles. After three straight games where the Nuggets kept their opponent below 100 points, this may be the one that passes the century mark. Utah can match Denver’s defensive game with their own lead by the Stifle Tower Rudy Gobert. They also play the boards well with the 4th highest rebounds per game at 52. The Nuggets are bottom-10 at 43.5.

Another stat that jumps out is the nuggets Free-Throw%, sitting 30th at 58.8 despite having the best Field-Goal% at 52.1. That is one of the weirdest stats I’ve seen in a while. Neither team’s offense is blowing the doors off anybody. They are pretty much neck and neck as you see above in PPG.

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I see this as being another defensive game where the Nuggets will need to dig deep to come out with a victory. The well-rested Utah Jazz will have to avoid a letdown after a long lay-off. Could be as sloppy as precise on either end. I think the extra jolt you get from playing a division rival will help both squads step up to the national stage of a TNT broadcast.

Key Stats:

30%

The bare minimum a team can shoot from behind the arc and win consistently. The Denver Nuggets shot just 23.7% from three and too many players looked scared to take the big shot. As good as Joker is, he can’t do this alone.

30

It’s looking more and more like Nikola Jokic needs to have this as his average PPG for this offense to reach its full potential sans Jamal Murray.

Key Players:

Michael Porter Jr.: You are going to hear this name a lot in this section. That happens when you sign a max extension in the offseason and average 11.5 points in the first 3 games. This must change.

Bones Hyland: The rookie got to dip his toes in the waters against Cleveland. He made waves leading the bench with 7 points in just 10 mins. He even got a brief look with the starters. Can his stock ascend even more? Coach Malone had high praise after the game.

Aaron Gordon: He has been the most consistent player outside of Nikola. This needs to continue as others around him step up their game.

Final Prediction:

Denver 107 – Utah 105

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