On Friday night in San Antonio, the Denver Nuggets reached a five-game road trip within a quarter and extended their winning streak to six games. It’s been an impressive run, but not as impressive as what Utah jazz has been doing lately.
Utah has won eleven straight wins, the last two without Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors, and with 15: 4 the best record in the NBA. The Jazz will get this streak in a nutshell when they visit the Nuggets for an early afternoon matchup on Sunday.
Mitchell (concussion log) and Favors (lower back pain) haven’t played since last Tuesday but traveled to Denver on Friday while their teammates played two home games against the Dallas Mavericks. Her status for Sunday is unknown.
If one or both of them can’t play, it’ll be harder to beat a Nuggets team that have settled in the last few weeks, but Utah has played well without them too. Various players have stepped up in their absence and given jazz a boost against the Mavericks.
“It’s a good sign for us when we know that people like Don can miss a few games and we can still win, especially if Fav fails,” said Mike Conley after the 120-101 win on Friday. “It’s hard to lose these guys, not to have them, but when we come out and play against a good team, not just a good team, but twice in a row and come out with wins, that says a lot about our team and our resilience. “
Denver has found some of that resilience after starting the season with four losses in the first five games. The Nuggets won 10 of their next 13 before falling to the Spurs between 119 and 109 on Friday night. Nikola Jokic continues to play at MVP level and scores his 19th double-double in a row at the beginning of the year.
He’s averaged a triple-double for the season, but his assists totals have declined. In the last six games, Jokic averaged just 5.3 per game and is now third in the league at 8.7 per game.
The good news for Denver is that Gary Harris appears to have broken out of a lengthy offensive slump. Harris is known for his defense, but the nuggets need his rating too. In the last nine games he has hit 46.5 percent from 3-point range.
“The only thing I love about Gary Harris is that he doesn’t complain every night,” said coach Michael Malone. “He accepts the challenge of protecting the other team’s best weapon. And that’s every single game we play.”
If Mitchell doesn’t play on Sunday, it will make Harris’ day on the defensive a little easier and give Denver a chance to level the season. Utah won the first matchup, 109-105, in Denver on January 17th. It was a continuation of the burgeoning rivalry that began in the first round of the postseason near Orlando last summer when the Nuggets caught up 3-1 in the series and won Game 7 to advance in the Western Conference playoffs.
– Field level media