One team coming off a disheartening defeat encounters another that’s hit rock bottom when the Denver Nuggets visit the New York Knicks on Thursday night.
Both teams bring losing streaks into a meeting that tips off a four-game Eastern swing for the Nuggets while serving as the opener of a two-game homestand for the Knicks.
Each club stumbled in a brush with fame in its most recent game.
The Nuggets watched as LeBron James and Anthony Davis dominated them for 25 points apiece in a 105-96 home loss Tuesday night in a highly anticipated duel of Western Conference heavyweights.
The Knicks also ran face-first into an NBA superstar and got flattened by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 29 points in 22 minutes in a 132-88 road shellacking dealt by the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
While the Nuggets had four hours in the air to replay what went wrong on their flight to New York on Wednesday, Knicks coach David Fizdale needed about five seconds after Monday’s game to make his assessment of the debacle in Milwaukee.
“Personally, I think we didn’t come in with an idea we could beat this team from the beginning,” Fizdale told reporters. “That’s what was most disappointing. They got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. We never took a real stand.”
The Nuggets are 13-5, and the Knicks are 4-17, but the clubs have more in common than what the records might indicate.
Denver’s trip continues to Boston, Brooklyn and Philadelphia, all teams that visited Colorado earlier this season and left with narrow defeats. The Nuggets beat the Celtics 96-92, the Nets 101-93 and the 76ers 100-97.
All will have revenge motivation when Denver hits town on this East Coast swing.
The Knicks have no such motivation, but they do have the knowledge that their past three home opponents have been those same three clubs — Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Boston.
They were competitive against them all, losing 103-101 to the Nets, 101-95 to the 76ers and 113-104 to the Celtics.
If the Knicks have an advantage in what, on paper, appears to be a one-sided matchup, it’s in bench play. Their reserves rank 13th in the NBA with 37.5 points per game this season, while their Nuggets counterparts rate just 22nd-best in scoring (33.7).
All five Nuggets reserves had negative plus/minus figures in the loss to the Lakers.
Another potential issue for Denver is center Nikola Jokic, who has averaged just 9.0 points in his past four games, shot just 7-for-23 in his past two and hasn’t made a 3-pointer in his past five outings, missing all 10 attempts.
“Right now, I cannot make shots,” Jokic said to reporters after Tuesday’s game. “It is what it is.”
The Nuggets have lost two straight after having won six in a row. The Knicks, meanwhile, have lost seven in a row, including four straight at home.
Denver has beaten New York in eight of their past nine meetings, including 111-93 at Madison Square Garden last March.
–Field Level Media