The Raptors tough December gets rolling with a visit from the red hot Nuggets. First time Masai Ujiri will see his former club face his current club. Denver has won 5 in a row and 8 of their last ten to recover from a slow start to the season. This marks the start of December that will see the Raptors face five Western Conference opponents to begin the month. They will face 8 overall and that includes two of those being against the ageless Spurs that continue to be a top squad in the NBA.
The Nuggets are riding high coming off a close win over the Knicks. This is the start of a six game road trip against Eastern Conference teams and a really chance for the Nuggets to build on their impressive win streak. After Toronto they head to Brooklyn, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Washington. You want a view of how bad the Eastern Conference is that is a combined record for all of there teams Raptors included of 34-64.
Brian Shaw is now the coach of the Nuggets as he replaced George Karl who left after Masai Ujiri did in the summer. Shaw for years had been on of the names that would always come up for head coaching jobs that became available. There was a time he was thought to have been the successor to Phil Jackson in L.A. He instead finds his long awaited head coaching opportunity with a Nuggets team that has some great talent.
Shaw is worried about his team under estimating the competition on this road trip to the East. Randy Foye who was college teammates with Kyle Lowry was quoted in a Denver Post article as saying the Nuggets will have their hands full with the Raptors.
I am not as sure about that as the Raptors seem to find a way to lose games while making them entertaining. Not that it matters much but the Raptors did win the last meeting with the Nuggets last season. This is a big game for Toronto not just to snap a losing skid but because they have their own 3 game swing in the Western Conference after this one. That is followed by returning home to face the Spurs. The Raptors record could look just as bad as some of their fellow Atlantic Division foes very easily if they are not careful.
Raptors will have the 1pm start time that might cause the Nuggets a bit of issues as they will be jumping a couple time zones and playing in morning by their natural body clock. So a fast start from the Raptors would go a long way in helping them stay in the fight in this one. The Nuggets may be to hot to be stopped at this point though as they are playing some really solid basketball in their last ten outings.