Nov 25, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) drives against Dallas Mavericks guard Ricky Ledo (7) in the fourth quarter at American Airlines Center. The Nuggets beat the Mavs 110-96. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Game 17 Preview: Nuggets (7-6) @ Wolves (8-8)

After opening their season losing four of their first five games — to Sacramento, Portland, San Antonio and Phoenix — the Denver Nuggets have gone 6-2. Those two losses came to Houston (by eleven) and Oklahoma City (by two).

In what I find to be an interesting scheduling quirk, the Nuggets are coming off a home-and-home series against Dallas where they had a day off in-between. The Nuggest have had two back-to-backs all season, lost both. Since the Nuggets lost to Phoenix, they’ve had one back-to-back — otherwise they’ve had a day off between every game.

The Wolves’ upcoming schedule — which I’ll shut up about in a second — gets a little stiffer competition-wise, but has the Wolves playing just four back-to-backs in the next two months.

Again, I know that’s a schedule-heavy analysis, but the Wolves have had 5 back-to-backs thus far and lost the second night 4 times.

Anyway, that home-and-home series with Dallas worked out well for Denver. They won by two at home and handed the Mavs their first home loss on Wednesday, winning 110-96.

Nuggets probable starting lineup:

PG Ty Lawson

SG Randy Foye

SF Jordan Hamilton

PF Kenneth Faried

C JJ Hickson

Lawson is averaging 21 points and 10 assists on 53% shooting over his last five games.

Faried and Hickson are both averaging double-doubles over the last five games.

Against the Wolves, in his second game of the season, Wilson Chandler came off the bench to throw up 19 points in 22 minutes on 6-9 shooting (3-4 from three). In his last five, he’s averaging just under 9 points in just over 27 minutes.

Danilo Gallinari was optimistically reported to make his season debut in late November, but is now said to be weeks away from returning from a torn ACL, as he hasn’t completed any on-court running much less basketball-related activity.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Kevin Martin

SF Corey Brewer

PF Kevin Love

C Nikola Pekovic

Martin has shot 36% on over 17 shots a game over the last five. He is averaging 18 points over that span.

The Twittersphere is saying Chase Budinger and Rony Turiaf could return in 3-4 weeks. Combine that with the added practice time the schedule (I know, I’ll stop) allows them, and the Wolves could get better over the next month, or so.

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Tags: Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets Game Preview Kenneth Faried Kevin Love Minnesota Timberwolves Pregame Ricky Rubio Ty Lawson

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