Matchup: Dallas Mavericks vs Denver Nuggets
Records: Mavericks (15-13), Nuggets (20-9)
Where to Watch
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 18
Time: 7:30 am
TV: Sony ESPN
Location: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
With the elevation, there's no denying the Nuggets' home advantage. Even though they missed the Playoffs last season with a record of 46-36, they had the league's third-best home record at 31-10.
Heading into this contest, they have won their final six at the Pepsi Center including a huge recent win over the Toronto Raptors.
Despite their home court advantage, they are missing quite a few key rotation players for this game.
Nonetheless, the team's biggest improvement from last season is their defense. The West's current table-toppers had the 23rd-best defense last season but their increased effort on that end this year has seen them jump 19 spots for the rankings this season - 4th (104.1).
Another huge reason for their improved play is their center Nikola Jokic. As a center, he is averaging 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 7.5 assists (career-highs) on 48.5% shooting with two recorded triple-doubles.
For Dallas, it's been the Luka Doncic show.
Just like the team, Doncic got off to a relatively slow start this season, but he's been a huge reason for the team's 12-3 record since Nov. 10. His numbers down the stretch of close games are ridiculous and he's made a lot of those clutch buckets with his killer stepback. (He's actually knocked down more stepbacks than the entire 2018 Draft Class combined).
The team has gone 0-2 since Dirk Nowitzki has returned, which might ring the alarm bells but it shouldn't. The team's defense-first mentality has seen them rack up wins consistently when they find their rhythm.
Although they are ranked as the 13th-best defense for the season but over the past 15 games, they are ranked as the fourth-best. Unfortunately, the team has a couple of key backcourt players as game-time decisions for this forthcoming road matchup.
- The Nuggets have the second-best home record in the league with a 12-3 record and are currently on a six-game winning streak at home. On the flip side, the Dallas Mavericks are struggling away from home with a disastrous 2-10 record in their previous 12 road games.
- For this contest, Denver is set to miss a host of players - Paul Millsap (Toe), Gary Harris (Hip), Michael Porter Jr. (Back), Isaiah Thomas (Hip), Will Barton (Groin), Jarred Vanderbilt (Foot) and Juancho Hernangomez (Abdomen).
- Meanwhile, for the Mavericks, they have three players who are game-time decisions - Dennis Smith Jr. (Wrist), JJ Barea (Ankle), and Maxi Kleber (Toe).
Last Time They Played
Date: Mar. 7, 2018
Score: Mavericks 118, Nuggets 107
Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. - 18 points, 11 assists, and 5 rebounds
Nuggets: Will Barton - 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists