Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets 11/28: Keys to third straight win

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 25: Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 25, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 25: Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 25, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz are looking for their third-straight win when they host a divisional rival in the Denver Nuggets, who are without big man Paul Millsap.

On Tuesday night, the Utah Jazz host the Denver Nuggets, who look to even the season series 1-1 in a division rivalry game. The Nuggets have been up and down this season, alternating wins and losses for the past seven games. They’ve also recently lost former Jazzman Paul Millsap to a wrist injury.

Denver is 8-2 at home and 3-6 on the road. Similarly, the Jazz are much better at home, with only on victory away from the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Also similar to Utah is that Denver lost arguably it’s best defender (Millsap) just like the Jazz lost Rudy Gobert. Another similarity — the Nuggets offense has looked improved since that time.

Prior to Millsap going down, Denver was trying to run its offense through Millsap with mixed results. Since he’s been out, they’ve looked like the top-notch offense they were expected to be, similar to the last season with Nikola Jokic as the point-center (is that really a thing?).

Nevertheless, the Jazz won the first game against Denver in Utah and look to do the same now.

This is how Denver has looked in their wins and losses as well as home and away. From there, I’ve extracted a few keys.

Team Splits Table

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/28/2017.

Force Turnovers

Surprisingly, Denver looks almost identical in wins and losses throughout the season, with the exception of a couple of key areas. Field goal percentage is slightly down, assists are considerably down and turnovers are markedly up at over 18 per game in losses.

Luckily, the Jazz are second best in the league at scoring off opponent turnovers, behind only the Thunder; the two are the only teams with more than 20 points from opponent giveaways per game.

Denver has a pass-heavy offense and are fifth in assists per game. If the Jazz can disrupt those passes and passing lanes with their length and defense, they should be able to feast on points off turnovers.

Contest 3-point opportunities

Last game, the Jazz broke a franchise record for 3-point makes at 18 in a single game. Denver has hit the 18 3-point makes standard twice this season.

Meanwhile, the Jazz are third in opponent 3-point attempts. They shouldn’t have a problem limiting their opportunities. However, teams tend to make their threes more often when playing the Jazz, who roll in at 26th in the league in opponent 3-point percentage.

Punish Denver in the paint

This has to happen on both sides of the game. Denver ranks third in the league in points in the paint and Utah ranks fourth in opponent points in the paint. 

With Rudy Gobert out, expect Denver to look to get inside and hurt the Jazz.

Conversely, Denver is 19th in opponent points in the paint and with Millsap (their best interior defender) out, Derrick Favors should be able to get rolling early and often against Jokic.

Denver’s paint scoring is a scary prospect to face without Gobert, but with how poorly Denver plays on the road and the fact that the Jazz are playing in the gold jerseys again, I think there’s a good chance of a win, given the Jazz can hold to these keys.


Important sidenote, Raul Neto, who was on the injury report following Saturday’s game, is available to play.

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The Jazz and Nuggets will tip things off at the Viv at 8 PM MT.