Nuggets look to regain top seed in Western Conference


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Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets head into Washington with a 47-22 record, tied for best record in the Western Conference. They are on a four game winning streak, but are just 17-16 on the road. Washington is 11 games under .500 at 30-41, but are 22-14 at home. A win by the Nuggets could vault them into first overall in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets have a clear advantage in most major statistical categories. They are 6th in fewest points allowed and rebounding, while the Wizards are near the bottom of the NBA in both categories. Washington is scoring at a higher clip than the Nuggets, but Denver makes the most of their possessions, ranked 8th in turnovers. The Wizards are careless with the ball, ranked in the bottom third of the league in turnovers. Both teams are in the middle of the pack in 3pt field goals attempted, but the Nuggets are the more effective team in knocking them down.

The Nuggets are lead in scoring, rebounding and assists by Nikola Jokic. He's averaging 20.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Malik Beasley and Monte Morris pose great threats to Washington's perimeter defense, knocking down 42 percent from beyond the arc. Jamal Murray provides a solid second scoring option, averaging 18.2 points per game. Veteran Paul Millsap has been tough underneath, hauling down 7.7 rebounds per game. Will Barton and Gary Harris round out the deep unit, both averaging in double-digits scoring per game.

Washington has had to play much of the season without John Ball, meaning others have had to step up. Bradley Beal has done just that, increasing his scoring to 26 per game, to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Bobby Portis is the big long range threat on the roster, knocking down 46 percent from beyond the arc, while adding 8.9 rebounds per game. Jabari Parker completes solid duo with Beal, averaging 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green provide good complimentary pieces, but aren't game changers.

On paper this should look like an easy win for the Nuggets. However, they are not terrific on the road for a team at the top in their conference. Washington is also quite good at home for a team well below average overall. In the end, the Nuggets have the better talent and will prevail. Look for a tight game decided later.

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