PREVIEW: Jerami Grant faces former team as Detroit Pistons visit Denver Nuggets

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Jan 28, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) handles the ball while defended by Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) during the fourth quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons have just five wins, but two of those have come in the last week against Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Beating good teams is usually a confidence boost, but in the first of a five-game Western Conference road trip, Detroit fell flat at Golden State. It doesn’t get easier when the Pistons face the Nuggets in Denver on Monday night.

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It will be the second of back-to-back games for the Nuggets, who beat the Utah Jazz — Detroit’s opponent on Tuesday night — 128-117 and are playing their third game in four days.

Monday’s game will be the first in Denver for Pistons forward Jerami Grant since he spurned the Nuggets’ contract offer and signed with Detroit for the same money. One of the reasons Grant had for accepting the Pistons’ three-year, $60-million offer was to be one of the top offensive options, something that was not probable with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. on Denver’s roster.

Grant leads Detroit in scoring at (23.5 points) and in shot attempts (17.3) per game.

Grant had 18 points in the 27-point loss to the Warriors, a game in which the Pistons had difficulty finding their rhythm.

“I’m confident we’ll find it,” said Josh Jackson, who scored 17 in the loss. “I’ve been around this group of guys for a while and one thing I’ve learned is they never lay down or never give up. I’m not worried.”

Detroit should be worried about stopping Jokic, who tied a career high with 47 points in Sunday’s win that ended Utah’s 11-game winning streak. Jokic has notched a double-double in all 20 games this season.

Jokic had time to go for 50 points but he went to the bench with the game in hand. His teammates were more interested in him getting there than Jokic.

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Jokic’s former backup, Mason Plumlee, can help with the scouting report for the Pistons but it might not matter, according to Denver’s Will Barton.

“He’s just different with his demeanor and approach to the game,” Barton said of Jokic. “A guy that really just wants to make the right play every time. When he turns that aggressive there’s nothing no one can do.

“We definitely wanted the big fella to get 5-0.”

The Nuggets will be playing their seventh game in 11 days and might have to do without their best perimeter defender in Gary Harris. Harris played just nine minutes in the first quarter on Sunday before leaving with a left adductor strain.

Coach Michael Malone did not provide an update on Harris’ condition in Sunday’s postgame availability.

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Denver has been banged up lately; it is already without PJ Dozier, and Murray is playing with a sore left shoulder. But Malone was happy with the contributions he from other players, such as Barton, JaMychal Green and Facundo Campazzo, on Sunday.

“You don’t beat the best team in the NBA with just one player,” Malone said. “It takes a team effort and I thought we got a lot of guys stepping up.”

–Field Level Media