DENVER - The Nuggets, who are still fighting to hold onto the eighth seed in the Western Conference, continue their four-game homestand and face the surging Washington Wizards, who have won 22 of 30 since Jan. 1
Regular season game No. 64 | Denver Nuggets (29-34) @ Washington Wizards (38-24)
The Nuggets have struggled all season against opposing guards and tonight will be another big time challenge against Washington. Denver is looking to make the best of their four-game homestand but now have John Wall and Bradley Beal to defend. While the difficulties of defending the Wizards' elite backcourt are known, the Nuggets also have to find a way to limit the newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovich, who has been on fire since being acquired by the Wizards at the trade deadline.
"Bradley Beal will catch-and-shoot all night long and John Wall will pick-and-roll all night long," Michael Malone said. "Their bench is playing well. Bogdanovich was a great pick up for them and his playing at a high level."
"What a great acquisition," Malone said of Bogdanovich. "He has had like two 29-point games and is shooting a ridiculous percentage from the three-point line."
The Wizards' backcourt is known for their offensive prowess but it's actually what they bring to table on defense that worries Malone the most. Washington is one of the best teams at forcing turnovers and converting transition opportunities so Denver will have to stay focused on that end of the floor. Limiting turnovers is priority No. 1 but getting back on defense is a close second.
"This is a team that is second in steals per game, first in forced turnovers per game. I think top-five in the points off of those turnovers that they force, and our game in Washington, that seems like a lifetime ago, we had a season-high 29 turnovers for 22 points," Malone said. "If we throw the ball all over the building and play in tight spaces then it will fuel their break and we cannot allow that. That is No. 1 by a long mile, our ability to value the ball tonight and not fuel their break with unforced turnovers."
Denver is still holding on tight to the eighth seed in the West, currently 1.5 games ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers while the Dallas Mavericks are just an additional half-game back.
Meanwhile, Minnesota and Sacramento are beginning to fall off. The Timberwolves are 3.5 games behind Denver while the Kings are trailing by a full four games.
Both the Mavericks and Trail Blazers are idle tonight but the Timberwolves do host the Los Angeles Clippers while the Pelicans, who are suddenly 4.5 games back of Denver, host the Toronto Raptors. Denver has a chance to extend their lead further tonight.
Kenneth Faried, who is still dealing with back spasms, will miss his sixth consecutive game. Expect Wilson Chandler to continue starting at power forward coming off of his career-high 36 points against Sacramento.
Danilo Gallinari has also come down with an illness and did not participate in shootaround Wednesday. Gallinari is questionable but Malone seemed to be preparing for life without their Italian sharpshooter at shootaround this morning. If Gallinari is not able to go then expect Juan Hernangomez to slide into the starting lineup.