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Nuggets look to get back on track versus Timberwolves

T.J. McBride Avatar
November 3, 2016

 

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Regular Season Game No. 4 | Denver Nuggets (1-2) at Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2)

Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota | 6:00 PM MST | TV: Altitude 2

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After losing two games by less than three points while giving up leads in the 4th quarter, the Denver Nuggets are looking to get back on track against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both Gary Harris and Will Barton are out so expect heavy doses of rookie Jamal Murray. It also seems Arthur will be available for the first time this season per Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post.

Emmanuel Mudiay vs. Kris Dunn

With Ricky Rubio set to miss time with a sprained elbow, the Timberwolves are set to start 22-year-old rookie Kris Dunn at point guard across from Mudiay. The two floor generals went at each other in the first game of Summer League back in July, a game where Mudiay put up 23 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, and have yet to meet since.

Mudiay has struggled shooting from everywhere on the floor. His averages of 33 percent from both the field and beyond the arc are rough and to compound the issue he is averaging a hefty 4.3 turnovers a game. Look for Mudiay to stay aggressive, as he always has, but slow down his game at the same time. While his ability to play with pace has been drastically understated, and a welcomed sight, he still looks rushed when playing in the half court. Now that he has gotten a few games this season under his belt and two days off before playing in Minnesota, Mudiay should be rested and ready to play come Thursday night’s matchup with the Timberwolves.

This matchup is also a good opportunity for Mudiay to bounce back after struggling in six of the last eight quarters. While Dunn is a strong and explosive point guard he is still a rookie who has only played three games thus far in his career. Mudiay has the chance to assert himself onto this game and remind everyone why the Denver Nuggets chose to hand him the keys as a rookie last season.

Balkan Buddy Ball vs. Karl Anthony-Towns and freshly paid Gorgui Dieng

The twin-tower look of Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic is going to get yet another test against arguably (not really) the best young big man in the NBA in Karl Anthony-Towns and his newly paid front court partner Gorgui Dieng, who has looked great under the tutelage of Tom Thibodeau.

Towns possesses a skill-set that is not able to be scouted being that he can beat you in so many ways. He plays both front court positions, scores from the low block out to the three point line, protects the rim and can lock down guards on the perimeter, and has an assist to turnover ratio better than 2:1.

To limit Towns and be able to come away from tonight’s contest with a victory the Nuggets may want to take a different path in defending the front court of the Timberwolves. Jokic’s defensive ability on the perimeter is less than ideal and his play through three games this season has been uninspiring. Moving Nurkic to defend Towns one on one is a way to alleviate the difficulties Jokic has on the defensive end while opening up more energy for the Joker to exert on offense. Nurkic has proven in the years prior that he moves much better then his monstrous frame implies.

Giving Jokic a chance to take a night off from the rigors of perimeter defending could do wonders for his offensive game that has been struggling to this point. Nurkic may be the most mobile big man the Nuggets have on the roster and giving him the chance to prove himself against the much more slender Towns as his opposition could be another big confidence booster for the Bosnian big man.

How does Murray play with an increase in minutes?

With both Gary Harris, groin, and Will Barton, ankle, out tonight it seems that Jamal Murray will get his first career NBA start. His shooting will be a welcome sight and for the passionate Nuggets faithful to get a good look at Murray with the ball in his hands surrounded by the starters may be one of the better windows into the future of the franchise.

Murray’s skill-set adds a lot of what the Nuggets team is lacking. His three-point shooting coinciding with his ability to handle the ball in the pick and roll is a recipe for success for a back court partner across from Emmanuel Mudiay. His shooting will hopefully create more space for the starting Balkan Buddy ball lineup that is starved for room in the paint.

With Murray’s, seemingly, first start upon us look for the rookie to come out aggressive. Thus far Murray has not hit his first bucket and has only two points from free throws to his name. Tonight is the start of the coming-out party for Murray.

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