As the Brooklyn Nets get ready to face off against the Denver Nuggets later today, they find themselves in the midst of a losing streak and trade rumors. Guard James Harden has been in the headlines for being unhappy with the organization and now the organization is finally ready to potentially trade the star player. In his last outing, Harden really struggled from the field, only scoring four points despite playing 37 minutes of the game. Harden is out for the game in Denver but this could be better for the team if his mind isn’t fully comitted. The Nets have lost seven straight games overall and are 2-8 in their last ten matchups. They hold a record of 17-10 on the road and are 29-23 sitting in the sixth spot of the Eastern Conference. They’ll be without Kevin Durant for this game once again as he battles through his own injury issues. For Denver, they come in having lost three straight and are 6-4 in their last ten games. They are 13-10 at home this season and have an overall record of 28-24, also sitting in the sixth spot of the Western Conference. These teams met earlier in the season with the Nuggets taking the game on the road by a score of 124-118. This will be the final matchup of these two teams in the regular season. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30pm EST from Ball Arena in Denver.
How Brooklyn can win: Without Durant, Joe Harris, LaMarcus Aldridge, and James Harden now, the Nets are going to need to rely on guard Kyrie Irving if they want to pull this game out on the road. In his limited playing time this season, Irving has played well averaging 22.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game on 46.4 percent shooting. He has shown that he can still be a really good player in this league and will need to take on more of the scoring load while other players miss time. Irving has one of the better handles in the league and will need to use them to pick apart the Denver defense and attempt to get open shots for his teammates. Guard Patty Mills will also need to step up in this game as Brooklyn can use their backcourt to just shoot and score the ball.
As a team, the Nets enter this game 10th in the league in scoring offense, averaging 111.4 points per game. They are 12th in the league in rebounding and eighth in assists and will need to win the little battles if they are to take this game. Containing Nikola Jokic will be a tough task for this team but if they can at least limit the former MVP, they’ll have a chance to win.
How Denver can win: Nikola Jokic continues to be the driving force behind this Denver team, keeping them afloat in the playoff hunt. He is averaging 25.9 points, 13.7 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game in another really strong season for himself. Without guard Jamal Murray and forward Michael Porter Jr., Jokic has taken on more of the load and has been very impressive. His ability to pick defenses apart with his passing game has been lethal for Denver on offense. He will likely need to have another strong outing if they are to pick up this game against Brooklyn.
This Denver team ranks as a top four team in the league in assisters per game however over their three-game losing streak, they have dropped down to 21st. They’ll need to help get each other involved to get some easy buckets. Additionally, they need to attack the paint especially against a banged-up Nets team as they have been the worst team in the league in paint scoring over the last few games. Look for Jokic and forward Aaron Gordon to attack the paint with force and try to get some easy shot attempts or get fouled and sent to the free throw line.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Moneyline: BKN: (+215) | DEN: (-260)
Spread: BKN: +6 (-108) | DEN: -6 (-112)
Final Prediction: Denver Nuggets 116 Brooklyn Nets 106
–Brooklyn is reeling right now and all the rumors about the team possibly trading Harden can’t be helping. Their focus has really been lacking lately and this team doesn’t have the depth to make up for it’s star players missing games. I like Denver to win this game at home today behind a strong performance from last seasons MVP. Jokic will likely cause problems for the Nets on the inside and lead his team to a victory to snap their own losing streak.