Two NBA teams that sit 10th in their respective conferences as of right now square off on Tuesday night when the Brooklyn Nets host the Denver Nuggets. Both of these teams had high expectations coming into this year, and both teams are failing to live up to any of them at all.
The Nuggets’ two stars, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, are both struggling to put up their numbers from last year, especially Murray. Murray is averaging 19.2 points per game this season, as compared to 25 points per game last season.
The Nets’ only real problems so far have been poor coaching late in games, poor shooting late in games, Kyrie Irving missing three straight games due to “personal reasons,” and Kevin Durant going on the COVID-19 list for a week.
Durant has been playing great all year, while Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen have both taken massive steps up when the Nets needed them to most.
Where’s Kyrie At?
At 5-6 through 11 games, this is not what Nets fans envisioned going into this season. Durant looks back to normal, averaging 29 points, eight assists and four rebounds a game even after missing three games due to contact tracing procedures for COVID-19.
Bench players like Allen and Jeff Green had to get extended minutes in that time, and they filled in nicely as the Nets went 2-1 without Durant.
Irving continues to miss time for personal reasons, and head coach Steve Nash or anyone in the organization, for that matter, cannot get a hold of him. We hope Irving is alright.
In his absence, backup guard LeVert has stepped up in a major way. LeVert is averaging 29 points per game since Irving went MIA, and shooting guard Joe Harris has also elevated his play.
Harris is averaging three three-pointers per game this season and continues to grow his game from his passing to his off-ball movement.
Jokic, Murray Keeping Nuggets Afloat
The Nuggets, much like the Nets, have two superstars they run their whole offense through. Jokic is still good for a double-double every night, and on any given night, he’ll give you a triple-double.
He is currently averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists per game as a center. Russell Westbrook did that for a whole season as a point guard and won MVP. I think Jokic has a good chance at getting that award if he keeps this pace up.
Murray, on the other hand, has digressed this season so far. While I don’t expect him to continue to struggle, it is noteworthy that Murray went from averaging five assists per game down to three per game, and his rebound totals went down from three to two a game this season.
The Nuggets are coming off back-to-back wins over the weekend against two of the hottest teams in the league, the Knicks and the 76ers.
Odds and Pick
The Nuggets are a one-point favorite for this one, with the over/under at 230.5.
My free pick of the night is Nets +1 and the over of 230.5.
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