Losing nearly 3,000 minutes out of your rotation would be difficult for any team, and the Denver Nuggets certainly needed an adjustment period after Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee bolted a Western Conference Finals team for a rebuilding situation (and starting roles) in Detroit.
It seems like they’ve figured it all out, though, after the trade deadline acquisitions of Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee. The Nuggets have won all four games Gordon has appeared in including contests against the Sixers and Clippers.
A game after coasting to an easy win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Pistons could be in for a humbling on the second night of a back-to-back against one of the West’s best.
When: 9 p.m. EST
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +14
Who is gonna guard Nikola Jokic? That’s really my only question going into tonight, and I’m not sure the Pistons have an adequate answer. It’s likely we’ll see Mason Plumlee lumbering around the court trying not to fall on his ass as he chases Jokic at the top of the key and attempts to keep up with his incredible handle and footwork. In reality, this seems like a game where Jokic is going to get pretty much whatever he wants. I’d be curious to see if the Dwane Casey is willing to attempt to throw some other defenders at him just to show him a different look. Could Isaiah Stewart frustrate him and not get eaten alive in the post? Could Tyler Cook get by him on the other end to make the differential a little less lopsided? We shall see!
As for Grant, he’ll have an interesting matchup against Gordon. The former Magic forward has found the Denver lineup like a comfortable shoe. He’s slipped right in and not being asked to do too much — just offer support with whatever the team needs. Grant, meanwhile, is increasingly needing to be a one-man offensive show for the Pistons, and he’s suffering for it.
Elsewhere, I’m still mainly interested in what Detroit’s young point guards can do, and I’m hoping Saben Lee and Killian Hayes still get a bunch of minutes in spite of Dwane Casey’s insistence that Cory Joseph needs to see the floor regularly.
With Plumlee back, I’m assuming that Sekou Doumbouya will go back into mothballs, but maybe he will be rewarded for his quality showing against the Thunder. I hope so, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
Detroit Pistons (15-35)
Saben Lee, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee
Denver Nuggets (31-18)
Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokic
Question of the Game
Who do you believe in more in the postseason — the Denver Nuggets or the Utah Jazz?