The Denver Nuggets have some problems on defense, and they are not getting fixed anytime soon. Dallas exploited one of the worst perimeter defenses in the league on Saturday night, going 18-of-44 from deep while averaging 1.341 points per possession in non-garbage time minutes. The Mavericks consistently used the pick-and-pop to get the Nuggets’ frontcourt out of position, and it allowed Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber to shoot a combined 7-of-11 from beyond the arc.
Denver is now 20th in defensive efficiency on the season, allowing 113.2 points every 100 possessions, but their other numbers are so much worse than that. They rank 30th in rim defense, allowing opponents to shoot 69.5% within four feet, and 28th in transition defense (130.2 points per 100 plays in transition allowed). That showed last night as well, with Dallas going 13-of-18 with three shooting fouls drawn at the rim and averaging a staggering 1.667 points per play in transition.
In the middle of all of this Nikola Jokic, a MVP candidate and Denver’s best player. However, he was poor on defense yet again last night, and with him on the floor the Nuggets defense allows 5.2 points more every 100 possessions. He’s having a fantastic offensive season, but he is one of the main reasons why Denver continues to disappoint as well. Should he seriously be considered for the award when actively contributes to his team’s biggest issue?
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*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back.
The Main Event
Los Angeles Clippers (-5.5, 236.5) at New Orleans Pelicans
Just three nights ago the Pelicans were given all they could handle by the Timberwolves. Minnesota outscored them 78-48 in the second and third quarters, averaged 1.36 points per possession and went 17-of-33 from beyond the arc in a 135-105 blowout win. In most cases, one could argue that it was just one game of 72 in the season. They could use New Orleans’ win over Cleveland, where they held the Cavaliers to just 0.75 points per possession, as the example that this Pelicans team has turned the corner on defense, but we know that is not true. The Pelicans are 29th in defensive efficiency, and it is clear this team is not going to change its ways on that end of the floor. If that is the case, how in the world do they handle the second-best offense in the league tonight?