Game Preview: Charlotte Hornets vs. Denver Nuggets Mason Plumlee vs. Nikola Jokic, a key matchup

December 19, 2022

The Hornets begin a six-game west coast road trip on Sunday with a trip to Denver. Even though the Hornets have the worst record in the NBA (7-22), LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward have recently made a comeback. They face a Nuggets team that is currently 17-11 on the season and is captained by former MVP Nikola Jokic.

Ball and Hayward have made their comeback to the starting lineup just in time, as this west coast road trip will undoubtedly be quite the challenge for a team in need of victories. Aside from the offensive firepower, both players will bring to the lineup, the Hornets’ defense could use a lot of work. Charlotte’s defensive rating per 100 possessions (115 points) places them 27th in the NBA, and head coach Steve Clifford has made it clear he is not happy about it. Charlotte hopes to start making some progress, even though the Nuggets will undoubtedly be a difficult opponent to turn that ship around against.

On the other hand, this season, the Nuggets are cruising to yet another top seed in the Western Conference. Although Denver has been practical this season in almost every aspect of offensive play, their defensive rating per 100 possessions (115 points) places them behind the Hornets. If these teams’ defensive trends continue, this game might end up being a shootout.

Nikola Jokic vs. Mason Plumlee.

The Nuggets have the second-best offensive rating in the NBA (116 points), thanks in large part to their all-around superstar Nikola Jokic. It is impossible to overstate his adaptability and decision-making as the main Denver offense coordinator. Mason Plumlee must maintain unwavering defensive discipline and be ready to play at all three levels with acute awareness if he is to limit the harm done by the Joker.

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