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Nuggets out for revenge against depleted Clippers

Harrison Wind Avatar
December 26, 2016

 

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On the road, losers of their last two games, the Denver Nuggets are singing a much different tune than they were at this point last week.

With the excitement and energy around their new starting lineup beginning to fade, the Nuggets look for what could be a huge win tonight in Los Angeles against a banged-up Clippers team that’s lost three of their last five and likely without three starters.

Regular season game No. 28 | Denver Nuggets (12-18) vs Los Angeles Clippers (22-10)

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California | 8:30 PM MST | TV: NBA TV, Altitude

 

Here’s what to watch for:

Mudiay finding his mark

Quietly, Emmanuel Mudiay has found success within the Nuggets new-look starting lineup that’s been deployed over their last five games.

The 20-year-old is averaging 13.4 points on 45.1 percent shooting from the field and 45.0 percent from three, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and only 2.0 turnovers per game in Denver’s last five games. The most surprising averages of all, his shooting numbers, will likely regress to the mean, but there’s a reason he’s shooting the ball better.

What the Nuggets’ new starting lineup gives Denver’s point guard more than anything is space. It’s the most space Mudiay is operating with this year; significantly more than he saw when playing with a Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic frontcourt, and much more than a Kenneth Faried and Nurkic frontcourt provided.

Mudiay’s also seen his role dialed back on offense. His usage has dropped to 21.2 percent from upwards of 30 earlier this season and he’s actually showing signs of being an effective shooter on spot-up situations from three.

More space and playing with more shooters means more open shots on offense and if Mudiay can develop into more of a threat from three and his shooting numbers say he’s taking steps towards that notion, it will do wonders for the Nuggets’ offense.

Nightmare Christmas for Clips

Nearly everything that could have gone wrong for the Clippers went wrong in their Christmas Day matchup with the Lakers Sunday.

Chris Paul missed his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Doc Rivers said postgame that his All-Star point guard could have played if it was a playoff game, but he’ll continue to sit Monday against the Nuggets.

Blake Griffin is out for the next 4-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery and in his place, Paul Pierce played just 12 minutes and scored five points. The rest of those minutes went to Wesley Johnson and Brandon Bass, not the most appealing options off the bench.

Finally, J.J. Redick left the Clippers’ 111-102 loss with a strained hamstring and it looks like he’ll miss tonight’s matchup as well.

“At first, I thought I just cramped up. I’m not a person who gets cramps, though,” Redick said via the Los Angeles Daily News. “…I would describe it as mild, day-to-day thing. It could be a day, could be seven. I don’t know. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”

Expect Austin Rivers to start in Redick’s place.

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