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Charlotte Bobcats at Denver Nuggets game preview

Al Jefferson will look to continue his hot stretch of play in Denver when the Bobcats square off with the Nuggets.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Bobcats went 2-2 in the first week without Kemba Walker. In theory it was a successful week, but after beating the Raptors and then surprising the Clippers the Bobcats were embarrassed by the Knicks and followed it up with a close loss at home to the Bulls. Charlotte has had a tough time in Denver, so avoiding a third straight loss will require a stellar defensive effort that has eluded the 'Cats lately.

With Walker's absence there's no doubt that it's the Big Al show offensively for Charlotte. Jefferson has been outstanding of late, averaging 26.8 points while hauling in 12.1 rebounds in the past two weeks. It's more than what the team had hoped for when they inked him to a deal this offseason and they'll need him to continue to carry the load tonight.

Denver's won back-to-back games to move a game over .500, yet it has them looking on the outside of the playoff picture in the tougher Western Conference. The Nuggets are led by a balanced attack and one of the league's best benches. Ty Lawson is their top scorer with 17.9 points per game followed by Wilson Chandler and four others who are scoring in double digits.

It'll be a matchup of opposing styles. The Nuggets play at a fast pace, are offensively talented but are giving up the fifth most points in the league this season. We all know the Bobcats are offensively challenged but have the ability to play lock down defense. It'll either take an unusually strong performance on the offensive end from Charlotte to walk away with the victory or for the defense to lock down the potent Nuggets.

Denver represents the first game of the Bobcats' four-game road trip out west. It'll be a challenging trip as each team besides the Lakers (ha!) boast winning records. A split with Kemba's return just around the corner would be big, but the competition will make it challenging.

Game tips at 9 ET.