The Wolves lost to the Nuggets twice during their 15 game losing streak, but get another chance at them tonight in Denver in an 8:00 pm tip-off. The Wolves are coming off last night's loss to the Suns in Phoenix as their road trip back and forth across the country continues, while the Nuggets lost last as well, in Dallas 97-89, ending a five game winning streak.
Their recent strong play has been driven in part by Ty Lawson, who is scoring consistently and piling up the assists. Given the Wolves defensive woes, particularly on the perimeter, he's probably a decent fantasy play tonight. Hard to imagine Mo Williams slowing him down much. Lawson finished with double-digit assists in both previous games against the Wolves.
The other fun thing to watch is the emergence of Jusuf Nurkic, who was a monster off the bench in the 2nd game between these teams and has moved into the starting lineup following the trade of Timofey Mozgov to the Cavaliers. He's been a bit up and down as you would expect from a rookie big, and had a tough 1-7 outing last night in Dallas, but has a ton of skill and is one of the fun rookies to watch in the league this year.
In the first meeting between these teams, a close 106-102 loss just after Christmas, the Nuggets grabbed 22 offensive rebounds, which made the difference in the game, as both teams shot it poorly. The second meeting was a more standard Wolves loss, as they "won" three of the four factors, but were outshot so badly it didn't matter.
A big factor tonight might wind up being the free throw line. Both teams are strong at getting to the line, and need to do so for their offenses to work. That was a significant factor in the first game, when the Nuggets got 32 free throws, though neither team got even 20 in the 2nd matchup. The Nuggets are also a strong rebounding team at both ends of the floor, and as we've seen time and time again, the Wolves struggle to control their defensive glass.
For the Wolves, Andrew Wiggins put up identical 8-18 shooting efforts in both games against the Nuggets earlier, and had a strong game last night in Phoenix. The primary hope at this point is that his development continues in a positive direction.
Neither team has scored under 100 points in the two meetings so far despite multiple poor shooting nights, because both teams play at a high pace. I would expect another reasonably high scoring affair tonight, even with both teams on the 2nd night of a back to back. My guess is defense will suffer more than offense, and neither of these teams is good defensively anyway. In the Wolves case...
Here's a link to Denver Stiffs.
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