Hawks vs. Nuggets: Denver Offense Must Overpower Atlanta Defense

Sam Stryker@sbstrykerContributor IIIMarch 4, 2013

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari leads a high-octane Denver offense.
Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari leads a high-octane Denver offense.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

When the Atlanta Hawks come to Denver on Monday night to take on the Nuggets, it’s going to be a case of two strong opposing forces squaring off. A high-octane offense versus a tough defense. 

If the Hawks are to win on the road Monday, it will because they slowed down the Nuggets offense—an imposing but not impossible task. Likewise, Denver will look to overpower the Atlanta defenders. 

The Nuggets rank in the top of the NBA in most offensive categories, scoring 105.5 points per game, good for third in the league. The team also passes well, averaging 24.3 assists per game, which is third in the NBA.

Denver is a difficult team to match up against because it benefits from a deep lineup. Six players average double-digit points per game, led by forward Danilo Gallinari, who averages 16.7 points per contest. Point guard Ty Lawson dishes out 16.5 points and 7.1 assists per game. 

Andre Iguodala, Keith Faried and Corey Brewer round out a deep Nuggets lineup.

Denver’s bench is a particular strength for the team, averaging 39.9 points per game, also good for third in the NBA. The Nuggets are currently riding a four-game win streak where they are averaging 112.0 points per game, with 46.5 points per game coming from the bench, according to Stats LLC. 

Denver is also a tough out at home, with a 25-3 record at the Pepsi Center. That’s the best home record of any team in the Western Conference and second in the league to the Miami Heat. Denver is on a 10-game home win streak, the longest for the team since 2005, according to Stats LLC. 

That is why it’s incredibly important for the Hawks to step things up defensively Monday night at the Pepsi Center. 

While Atlanta doesn’t play well on the boards—they average 40.8 rebounds per game, which is good for 25th in the NBA—the Hawks are solid defensively. Atlanta holds opponents to 96.6 points per game, good for 12th in the league.

Atlanta certainly has a group of players capable of standing up to the daunting task of stopping Denver. 

While the team doesn’t rebound well as a whole, Atlanta center Al Horford averages 9.9 boards per game, good for ninth in the league. Hawks forward Josh Smith averages 2.0 blocks per game, which ranks eighth in the NBA. Speedy point guard Jeff Teague also averages 1.5 steals per game.

It’s not an easy task to be sure, but if Atlanta is to have any hope of escaping Denver with a victory, it needs to figure out how to stop the high-flying Nuggets offense. 

All statistics are via ESPN.