Brooklyn Nets take on another young athletic team in Denver Nuggets

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

The Nets have had their best stretch in a while, winning two out of four, both road games, in the past week. It ain't much, but it's an improvement.  But their big issue all season long has been young athletic teams ... and Tuesday, they face another one, the Denver Nuggets, who've won six straight and nine of their last 11.

And, oh do they score points. Over those 11 games, they've averaged 107.9 points per game. They give up a lot as well. In six of the eleven, they gave up 100 or more, in four of them, they gave up 110 or more.

Brian Shaw, who was interviewed for the Nets job --mainly at Billy King's insistence-- has them running.  On the road, they rack up a league-leading 18 fast break points per game. They excel in all those categories that young, athletic teams excel at: points, points in the paint, rebounding, pace. They also have an energetic bench, led by Nets nemesis Nate Robinson.

"For us, we just stick together. Like coach said, we have a tag-team mentality which is, first team wear them down and second team wear them out," Robinson said. "Early in the year a lot of guys on the team, a lot of guys on the bench, weren't making shots and now we are in our rhythm."

The season so far

What have these squads been up to? Let's see:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Denver

Record

5-12 10-6

Pace

95.6 100.6

Offensive Efficiency

99.1 104.4

Defensive Efficiency

105.6 102.0

Offensive Rebounding percentage

24.9 27.2

Turnover rate

14.7 13.5

Assist rate

15.7 16.5

Rebound rate

48.9 49.2

Free throw rate

32.2 30.7

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.5 50.4

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.8 47.6

For the Nets, once again, there will be plenty of walking wounded. Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry are all out, leaving 11 players active and a shortfall at small forward, one which Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson filled well enough vs. the Grizzlies. Can they do it again and again with Pierce out two to three weeks and Kirilenko out till at least next week.

Otherwise, the starters should be a bit more rested and in comfortable surroundings. Shaun Livingston; Joe Johnson; Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez and Alan Anderson are likely to start, backed-up by sixth man Andray Blatche

The subs who've played well enough the last few games --Teletovic, Tyshawn Taylor and Mason Plumlee in particular, are likely to see a lot of minutes, with Teletovic filling in again at both forward spots.

Denver is likely to start a quick frontcourt of J.J. Hickson, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler. In the backcourt, it will be Ty Lawson and Randy Foye.  But the bench is where the Nuggets can kill you. Led by Robinson and Russian center Timofey Mozgov on Sunday, the reserves outscored Toronto's 72-16.

"Seventy-two points off our bench is huge for us tonight and that's what it takes, contributions from everybody on this team," said  Shaw, whose club is averaging 45.2 bench points to rank second in the NBA.

Player to Watch: Nate Robinson

Robinson has always been a Nets nemesis, but in last year's playoffs, he cemented a place in the Nets rivals Hall of Fame with his electrifying appearance in Game 4 ... 34 points, 23 in the third.

Robinson has given the Nuggets a huge lift during the winning streak, posting 15.3 points per game after averaging 6.9 over the first 10. Denver is shooting 48.3 percent during its run. On Sunday, he scored 23 points on 5-of-8 three point shooting.

From the Vault

Speaking of Game 4, here's Robinson's highlight reel from that night, a night that started with Robinson testing C.J. Watson, who's toughness he found wantid.

More reading: The Denver Stiffs

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