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DENVER — The Nuggets get a chance to extract revenge against an improving Dallas Mavericks team that blew out Denver on Dec. 12 in Dallas 112-92. While both teams are on an upswing it would be huge for the Nuggets to finish their three-game homestand without a loss before going into one of the toughest three-game stretches of the year against the Hawks and the Clippers (twice).
Regular season game No. 28 | Denver Nuggets (11-16) vs Dallas Mavericks (7-20)
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado | 7:00 PM MST | TV: Altitude
Here’s what to watch for as Denver goes for their first three-game win streak of the regular season:
Playing with more effort
Michael Malone did not mince words after suffering a humiliating loss to the Mavericks just a week ago.
“Our one-on-one defense in that game and our lack of fight or resistance was alarming. Really was alarming.” Michael Malone said. “We addressed that today (at practice) and hopefully it is a lot better tomorrow night. Defensively right now we just have no resistance and no fight.”
Recently, the Nuggets have played with much more aggression and more urgency but know that they need to continue that type of fiery play to continue on their winning path.
“We just were not ready to play…from the get go,” Malone said. “You can point to a lot of different things but that last game in Dallas was probably our worst effort of the year. Hopefully, we can continue playing at the level at which we have the last two games and close this homestand out with another win.”
The Nuggets new starting rotation has helped Denver average nearly 130 points per game and Malone’s substitution patterns have gained some consistency over the Nuggets’ recent stretch of games. If they are to finish the three-game home stand without a loss and continue their climb back into the playoff picture, it will be behind the effort Denver decides to play with.
Protecting the three-point line
The Mavericks have been getting better with each victory behind the improved play of Harrison Barnes and the three-point shooting of Wesley Matthews. Their collective effort in combination with the obviously high-level coaching of Rick Carlisle has led to a much better Dallas team that has won three of their last six after losing 12 of the previous 14 games.
“A lot of that has to do with Harrison Barnes and Wesley Mathews,” Malone said of Dallas’ three-point prowess. “Both are playing at a very high level. Offensively they shoot the three-point shot and they shoot a lot of them. In the last five games they a shooting 40 percent from three and taking over 30 per game.”
The Nuggets have done a solid job protecting the three-point line as of late and having Gary Harris back in the fold will do nothing but help. Harris should be matched up with Matthews for the majority of the night and that matchup will be one of the more interesting battles of the game.
“Defensively they do a great job of guarding the paint, they are number two in terms of protecting the paint,” Malone said. “They don’t beat themselves, they don’t turn the ball over and they don’t give up anything easy.