Nugget road trip. Having just concluded a four game homestand, Denver kicks off a five-game road trip tonight before heading to Philadelphia, Washington, New York and Sacramento. The Nuggets split their homestand 2-2 and are coming off a disappointing loss to the Jazz, allowing Paul Millsap to rack up 26/12 as Utah shot 52% from the field.
No escaping Nene. The Bucks couldn't take advantage of Nene's absence in Denver, though it may not have helped the Bucks as much as you might think. George Karl's decision to play sixth man of the year candidate Al Harrington at center down the stretch was critical to putting the game away, but that's less likely to happen with Nene available. The Brazilian hasn't had a great start to the season (by his standards), but he's still a beast around the rim (68%) and has been rebounding exceptionally well (17.6%). Given Nene's strength down low, I'm curious to see if Scott Skiles actually lets Jon Leuer defend him early or if he cross-matches him with Bogut. For what it's worth: Leuer's allowed a solid 0.75 points per play this season defending post-ups via Synergy, although the sample size is a miniscule eight plays. Bogut's allowed 0.59 PPP in 17 attempts.
Bogut the Shooter. Andrew Bogut was 0/24 on jumpers between 16 and 23 feet last season. This season? Try 7/13, including 3/6 in Philly. He's now 63/212 in his career. Otherwise, Bogut's 7/7 finishing night at the rim in Philly upped his effectiveness around the cup to a career-high 79% (26/33); he's generally been between 64% and 66% over his career. But Bogut continues to struggle from slightly further out, having hit just 9/44 shots between 3-9 feet after shooting at least 42% every season leading up to this one. Go figure.
The story's been slightly different for Jon Leuer, who came into the league pegged as a stretch four but has excelled mainly because of his work close to the hoop. Leuer entered Monday's game hitting a Larry Sanders-esque 29% on long twos (5/17) and didn't hit his first three until the closing seconds of the first half in Philadephia (1/3 overall). Thankfully he's been lights-out from 10-15 feet (69%) and virtually automatic around the hoop (71%). Not bad for a big white guy.
Fast paint. Denver leads the league in points in the paint (50.2 ppg) and attempted a season-high 45 shots at the rim in the teams' first meeting. Note to Bucks: you may want to rebound this time around. Not coincidentally, the Nuggets also lead the league in fastbreak scoring (22 ppg) and pace. Who doesn't like layups?