The Denver Nuggets haven’t spent as much time at home this season as many other teams. They’ve played 21 of their 35 games on the road so far this year, most of those without their full lineup intact, and the last two without their head coach.
Denver won’t have a full complement of players Wednesday night, but it will get a chance to play at home when it hosts the Utah Jazz.
The Nuggets haven’t dominated at Ball Arena like they have in past years, going just 8-6 with a couple of underwhelming losses tossed in. They’ll have to be well-prepared for Utah, as the Jazz lead the Northwest Division so far this season.
The Jazz are coming off a win at New Orleans on Monday night while Denver fell at Dallas, which snapped its three-game road winning streak.
The Nuggets were able to win three straight on the road despite injuries and COVID-19 absences. Head coach Michael Malone — as well as players Jeff Green, Monte Morris and Zeke Nnaji –didn’t make the trip through Texas, while Bones Hyland missed Saturday’s game at Houston.
Hyland returned for the loss to the Mavericks, but the status of some other players remains murky. On Tuesday, Nnaji and Austin Rivers (right thumb) were listed by the Nuggets as questionable for the Jazz game, while Morris and Green were listed as out. It’s unclear when Malone might return to the bench.
With several players missing, it has given others a chance for playing time. Bol Bol had a solid game in Houston in just over 10 minutes of action after returning from health and safety protocols.
“I tried to do the right things, not just try to do too much,” Bol said. “I mean, just playing within the system and play hard. But it was kind of tough because I’ve been in quarantine, so that was like my second time in the gym in the last two weeks.”
The Jazz have won nine straight road games, although the game against the Pelicans was a slog at the start before Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic hit key 3-pointers late in the game.
Utah slowed things down to help create more spacing against New Orleans, and it could be a strategy against the active, switching Nuggets defense.
“It’s not like the Showtime Lakers who were running for layups and dunks, but we’ve got to run in order to create space so that we can play in a larger space where our quickness and our shooting — that combination can give us an advantage,” coach Quin Snyder said after Monday’s win.
The Jazz played without center Hassan Whiteside, who has missed two straight games with a concussion and his status for Wednesday was not announced. Forward Eric Paschall has missed the last four games for personal reasons.
If neither can play, it likely means the Jazz will have a tougher time containing Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 25.6 points and 19.8 rebounds over his last five games, which has helped short-handed Denver go 3-2 in that span.
“I think the biggest thing right now, the MVP’s really locked in,” acting head coach Popeye Jones said of Jokic.
ESPN reported Tuesday evening that Joe Ingles has entered the league’s COVID protocols, making him the first Jazz player to do so this season. The Jazz had previously been the only team in the NBA without a player in health and safety protocols this season. Ingles is averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 assists per-game this season.
–Field Level Media