Alright, the Denver Nuggets (46-23) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, which is their longest of the year, and they are playing the second game of their five-game road trip against the Detroit Pistons (16-54) tonight in a spot that is the perfect get-right game. The Nuggets are the top team in the Western Conference while the Pistons have the worst record in the entire NBA.

For the Nuggets, they were cruising along, but they’ve lost four straight games. They’ve seen consistent issues in each of those losses. When teams have been physical with them while they’re on offense, they’ve struggled to generate points at their usual clip. On the defensive end, they’ve been a sieve outside of occasional times when they can lock in, such as the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors. 

For the Pistons, things are going according to plan. They’re 1-9 over their last 10 games, with the lone win coming against an Indiana Pacers’ team that was resting several key players. They have the worst record in the NBA, and they’re cruising towards securing a spot in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. They knocked off Denver earlier in the year, so they could get the sweep with a win tonight.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (46-23, 16-17 away) @ Detroit Pistons (16-54, 9-27 home)

When: 5:00 p.m. MST

Where: Little Caesars Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Toronto. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Expected Starting Lineups:

DET: PG Fred VanVleet, SG OG Anunoby, SF Scottie Barnes, PF Pascal Siakam, C Jakob Poeltl

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Jamal Murray (knee) PROBABLE, Zeke Nnaji (shoulder) OUT, Collin Gillespie (leg) OUT, Jaden Ivey (Protocols) PROBABLE, Marvin Bagley (ankle) OUT, Bojan Bogdanovic (achilles) OUT, Alec Burks (foot) OUT, Hamidou Diallo (ankle) OUT, Isaiah Livers (hip) OUT, Isaiah Stewart (shoulder) OUT

Three Things to Watch

Get Started Early

You’ve lost four straight, and you know the noise is starting to build around you. Come out and play your brand of basketball by getting out in transition and playing attacking basketball. The Nuggets average three more fastbreak points per game in their wins compared to their losses this season, and this is in large part due to their high-end athletes and strong passers. When they’re playing against a set defense, those passing lanes are more difficult to locate.

Don’t Let Them Hang Around

The Nuggets have the advantage in this game. They’re playing against a team that is actively trying to lose games by resting essentially every player with any sort of injury. However, the quickest way to lose games against a team like that is to let them hang around when you have the chance to put them away. Denver lost to Detroit earlier this year at home because they couldn’t just take care of business. Don’t do that again.

Bench Minutes

The Nuggets’ bench continues to be their biggest Achilles heel on a nightly basis. They have a -4.2 net rating, which ranks 29th, on the year, and they have a -5.5 rating since the trade deadline, which ranks 28th in that span. The Pistons are ninth in bench net rating since the deadline. With all of their injuries, who knows who is going to be on the floor for them. Regardless of who it is, Denver needs to win those minutes or at the very least break even here.