Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets: What to Watch For in This Must-Win

Nov 13, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the fourth quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets come back to the Pepsi Center searching for their first home win of the season. Will they be able to notch their first home win when the Phoenix Suns come to town?

The Nuggets, in their last game against the Portland Trailblazers, lost after having a 7-point lead at halftime. This seems to be a reoccurring event with the Nuggets this season.

This team has struggled to put together four solid quarters this season. The win over the Boston Celtics was arguably the best win, but the Celtics were also missing Al Horford and Jae Crowder.

The next game against the Phoenix Suns, who are 3-8, is a must-win. The Nuggets are already falling behind in the West and the Suns are a team they should be able to beat.

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Here are a couple things to watch for Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center

What do you think about the Nuggets’ season so far? Is it just a slow start or are the Nuggets destined for the bottom half of the West? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

Nov 12, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari (8) reacts during the second half against the Detroit Pistons at Pepsi Center. The Pistons won 106-95. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets Assist Totals

Do you know how many assists the Nuggets totaled on Sunday against the Trailblazers? They only had 11 assists all night.

To put that into perspective, lets look at the Los Angeles Clippers’ dismantling of the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. The Clippers won 127-95 and they tallied 32 assists on the night. Even the Trailblazers had 21 assists against the Nuggets.

The Nuggets become very complacent and do not pass the ball around enough on offense. It seems at times that they are trying to play hero ball. Sadly, the Nuggets do not have a superstar to be able to play isolation basketball.

Also, there is a case for the argument that these teams have better shooters who make shots leading to assists. If the Nuggets were able to knock down shots more consistently they would have a higher assist total. Ultimately, though, it comes down to the offense becoming stagnant.

Mike Malone must recognize this glaring problem with the offense. Against the Suns, it’ll be interesting to see if the offense can move the ball around more and create more offense.

The Nuggets are capable of making shots, but they have to run some plays and get guys open.

Nov 13, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) shoots over Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) during the third quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker vs. Jamal Murray

This will be an interesting match-up from these young guards. Also, they both from the University of Kentucky, though Booker is a year older.

The two’s skill-sets are very similar. Booker was known for his incredible shooting at Kentucky and Murray was drafted to the Nuggets for the same reasons.

Booker is obviously more developed than Murray due to his extra year of experience in the NBA.

This season, Booker is averaging 20.2 points per game on 41 percent shooting. Murray started off the season slow, missing his first 16 shots, but has since improved tremendously. In his last four games, Murray has averaged 12.5 points on 47.6 percent shooting.

At the end of the game against the Trailblazers, Murray was able to knock down four straight threes in the last minute of the game:

The biggest issue is defense. Gary Harris is out and likely to miss four more weeks with an injury. Harris is arguably the best defender on the Nuggets and his perimeter defense is missed.

Murray has been better on defense, but he is still getting beat off of screens. If Booker beats you off a screen, trying to trail him on defense will be disastrous.

Mike Malone may opt to start Jameer Nelson in place of Murray again this game. Regardless, the Murray versus Booker match-up will be one to keep your eye on.

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