The Nuggets were able to defeat the short-handed Sixers yesterday, and follow that up with a game against the Knicks.
The Knicks are off to a surprising start to the season under Tom Thibodeau, who is in his first season as a head coach with the organization. Thibodeau has helped unlock Julius Randle’s unlock, with the former Kentucky power forward leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists after nine games. With Randle’s play, he’s helped the team shoot the ball well, but their defense isn’t even close to being ready to deal with skilled NBA offenses.
When I worked in NYC and used Penn Station for my commute, I would see the strangest things late at nights deep under MSG. People defecating in the corners, drunk Santas singing carols, drug and alcohol abuse — it is one of the wildest places I’ve ever been. Hopefully the Nuggets game tonight avoids chaos like that and the Nuggets can take care of business against a team that will give them a good fight.
Who: Denver Nuggets (4-5) vs New York Knicks (5-4)
Where: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, New York
When: 4:00 PM MT
How to Watch: NBA League Pass, Altitude
Injuries: Michael Porter Jr. (Out – COVID-19 protocols); Obi Toppin (out), Dennis Smith Jr. (out), Frank Ntilikina (out), Taj Gibson (probable), Kevin Knox (probable)
Three Things to Watch
Will the Nuggets handle the Knicks size? The concern for the Nuggets with MPJ unavailable is how they handle teams that play big. The Knicks have a matchup advantage with Julius Randle the Nuggets are going to struggle with, and they need to get the ball out of his hands while keeping him off of the glass. They can’t be afraid of Mitchell Robinson or Nerlens Noel, or Taj Gibson if he plays, but also need to have a healthy fear of their ability to make an impact in rebounding. Don’t get bullied tonight.
Perimeter shooting. The Nuggets need to play disciplined on defense, and not allow the Knicks to have an advantage from the 3-point line. The Knicks are one of three teams in the NBA that are averaging less than 10 made 3-pointers per game, at 9.9 per contest. They are going to try to beat teams by scoring inside the 3-point line, and any points they can get from outside the 3-point line are extra. Make smart rotations to help the interior defense, and stay glued to shooters like Reggie Bullock and Austin Rivers.
Fresh Legs. The Nuggets were able to beat the 76ers yesterday without playing anyone more than 30 minutes. Hopefully that allows the starters to not run out of energy in the fourth quarter, like they typically do in back-to-back scenarios. Coach Malone needs to be smart with his rotation tonight, and avoid trying to match Coach Thibodeau as the Knicks give heavy minutes to their starters. Use the short trip from Philly to NYC and limited minutes from the previous game to your advantage, and be sharp tonight. Hopefully the New York nightlife doesn’t get to claim another victim.
Nuggets 110 – Knicks 102, Nuggets cover, under hits.