Nuggets vs. Thunder: Can Oklahoma City cool white-hot Denver?

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

The Oklahoma City Thunder will need to ride home-court advantage to end the Denver Nuggets' 12-game winning streak.

The Denver Nuggets haven't toyed with luck much during a 12-game winning streak as their point differential is comfortably in double-digits. But a road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night might require a little bit of it.

There are multiple factors to consider here. While Oklahoma City has won eight of its last nine and boasts a home winning percentage of 88 percent this season, there's no doubt George Karl's team is playing great basketball.

Averaging 110 points per game over the course of the 12-game winning streak, Denver's defense isn't doing all that shabby either. Despite playing at the second-fastest pace in the NBA, according to Basketball-Reference.com, the Nuggets have only given up an average of 98.8 points per game during the last dozen outings -- no luck required.

And that acceptable defense will be most important against a Thunder team that is quite capable of keeping up on offense. Denver is third in the NBA at 106 points per game while Oklahoma City sits No. 1 by averaging 106.7 points per game.

Coming off a 119-118 overtime win against Chicago and on the second night of a back-to-back, Denver is the clear underdog. With their 16-19 road record, it will be difficult for them to counter the Thunder's massive home-court advantage.

But the deal is that the Nuggets have help for point guard Ty Lawson. Against the Bulls, Wilson Chandler poured in 35 points off the bench, and efforts like that will be needed from Denver across the board if they have a shot at dropping Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.

Points in the paint

Denver's high scoring isn't coming by way of quick triggers. Actually, the Nuggets are by far the best team at speeding the game up and getting points in the paint. Often that's in transition.

If the Nuggets can beat the likes of Kendrick Perkins down the floor, they'll be in good shape. Leading the NBA in points in the paint, as the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman writes, has become the identity of the Nuggets' offense. And according to the NBA.com Stats tool, Denver is by far the best NBA team at getting looks. In the restricted area, the Nuggets have shot a league-high 2,622 shots with 1,677 makes this season. That' nearly 400 more attempts than the next best team and more than 300 more makes.

Keys to the game

For the Nuggets, getting a rise out of forward Danilo Gallinari will be key. The Italian gunner has shot above 31 percent in only one of his last five games.

As for Oklahoma City, which has lost its last two (both in Denver) to the Nuggets, getting some production from the bench could be asking too much, but it'll be necessary if the Thunder is to dispatch the second-hottest team in the league. Otherwise, the Thunder will have to survive by riding the usually gutsy play from Durant and Westbrook.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: NBATV

Odds: The Thunder opened as an 8.5-point favorite.

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