- Teams: Denver Nuggets (24-24) at Detroit Pistons (20-29)
- Date: February 8, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD, NBATV
What to look for
The Denver Nuggets have dual identities, which makes them a little odd. They started out the season by playing at a fast pace, but they adjusted by slowing things down in December. They played at a speed in the league’s bottom third, and the team suffered an eight-game losing streak.
The Nuggets have historically always been among the league leaders in pace because they usually run teams out of the building in the high altitudes of Denver. However, Brian Shaw opted to slow things down for the sake of teaching his team how to execute in the half court.
The experiment was viewed as somewhat of a failure, but few accounted for the strength of schedule during that stretch prior to Christmas. With the exception of the New Orleans Pelicans, every opponent Denver faced during the losing streak is in the mix for a postseason berth.
Nonetheless, in the face of adversity, Denver reverted back to what it knows best: flying up and down the court. They have progressively increased their pace in each month since December, and their offensive efficiency has picked up as well.
What’s more, the Nuggets have the horses necessary to get up and down the floor. Shaw uses players that are all roughly the same size. Their wing and interior guys can defend multiple positions and consistently beat people down the court.
The Nuggets tend to overwhelm teams that are not prepared for their style of play, especially in the confines of Colorado. Away from home though, that advantage is somewhat nullified.
The Nuggets’ pace takes a slight dip on the road because opponents are not gasping for air in the same manner as they typically do in Denver. Teams are no longer forced to matchup with Ty Lawson and Co. because their big people will not get exposed out in transition.
In turn, units with big frontlines will get their fair share of rebounds at home when playing against Denver. According to NBA.com, the Nuggets see a decrease in their rebounding percentage in road games when compared to home.
That gives the Detroit Pistons an intriguing edge tonight, given that Andre Drummond’s bunch does a fantastic job of attacking the boards for second-chance points.
The tandem of Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson simply does not have the size to deal with the Pistons’ frontline. The one wildcard for Denver: 3-point shooting.
If they can loosen up the Detroit defense with a few long-distance shots, it will give them an opportunity to attack the interior in the half court. Otherwise, it’s far more prudent to bet on Detroit because their failures in execution will be mitigated by their offensive rebounds.