NBA Basketball

104
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Washington 23 24 22 35 104
Denver 25 39 22 31 117
117
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CT0:00 , November 26, 2019
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 18,673

Nuggets brace for test from fast-paced Wizards

According to STATS
According to STATS

Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets

  1. The Wizards have won their last three visits to Denver; the only place they have a longer active winning streak is Phoenix (four games). No other team has an active winning streak in Denver except for the Nuggets themselves, who have won their last four home games.
  2. Denver is allowing a league-low 101.7 points per game and Washington is surrendering an average of 120.3, second worst in the NBA (Pelicans, 120.4). The Nuggets are 11-1 when holding the opposition under 110 points, and the Wizards are 1-5 when being held under 110.
  3. The Nuggets have matched the best 15-game start in franchise history, having also opened 12-3 in 1984-85 and 1976-77. Washington is looking to avoid a second consecutive 5-10 start.
  4. Over Denver's last six games, Will Barton and Jamal Murray have a combined 4.62 assist-to-turnover ratio (60/13). That duo had a combined 1.50 assist-to-turnover ratio (54/38) through the season's first nine games.
  5. Isaiah Thomas has played 12 games in a Washington uniform, the same number he played all of last season -- his only one with Denver. His combined total of points and assists (220) with Washington is exactly 100 better than what he compiled with the Nuggets (120).
  6. Nikola Jokic's eight points in Sunday's 116-104 win over Phoenix were a season low, but the Nuggets improved to 4-0 this season when he fails to score in double figures. They've won those four games by an average of 14.0 points.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Denver Nuggets' improved defense is going to get a strong challenge from a young, fast-paced team on Tuesday night.

The Washington Wizards take the NBA's second-ranked offense into Denver on Tuesday night to battle the Nuggets' top-rated defense, so it will be strength on strength. The team that imposes its will should be the one that comes out on top.

The Wizards have a young and inexperienced team right now, which is a change from earlier seasons when they were competing among the best in the Eastern Conference. Despite that youth and a chemistry that is still forming Washington has been able to put up points (119.1 per game entering Monday's play).

"We have a lot of pieces that can be in there at the same time," Thomas Bryant, one of the few holdovers from the recent years, told the Washington Post. "We try to build chemistry day in and day out with practice. No matter who's in the game toward the end, you try to have that trust and develop that talk on the defensive end with each other."

While Washington is a young team one veteran is going to have a reunion with his old squad. Guard Isaiah Thomas returns to Denver after spending last season on the Nuggets' roster. The 30-year-old missed the first half of the 2018-19 season recovering from hip surgery and then fell out of the rotation during Denver's stretch run and into the playoffs.

The two-time All-Star is averaging 12.8 points in 24.7 minutes per game in 12 games (nine starts this season.

The Wizards are coming off a disappointing home loss to Sacramento on Sunday and now go against one of the best teams in the NBA. Denver is on a five-game winning streak and has won nine of its last 10, helping the Nuggets to the second-best record in the Western Conference.

Much of the Nuggets' early-season success can be attributed to their defense. It was a liability a couple of years ago -- ranking 22nd in the league in scoring defense in 2017-18. But the Nuggets improved to sixth last season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

This season it has become even better and they are allowing 101.7 points per game. In Sunday's comeback win over Phoenix, Denver held the Suns to 47 points in the second half and just 20 in the third quarter, when the game turned in the Nuggets' favor.

Coach Mike Malone has preached defense since he was hired four years ago and the lessons are starting to sink in. The players are also finding that good defense leads to easier offense.

"The defense is always the trigger that ignites our break and how we play," Malone said after the 116-104 win over Phoenix. "When you're taking the ball out of the net time and time again it's hard to get out and run and create that pace and tempo we like to play with."

If there has been one weakness for Denver it is the bench, which has struggled to score at times, putting more responsibility on the starters. Sunday it was the reserves that got stops and turned a seven-point deficit into a lead.

The Wizards are heading into one of their toughest stretches of the season. Tuesday is the start of a four-game Western Conference road swing, which also includes games against the Suns, and the two Los Angeles teams - the Lakers and Clippers. Of Washington's next 16 games, 12 are away from home.

--Field Level Media

Updated November 26, 2019

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