Nuggets seek key win against short-handed Pistons

The Denver Nuggets have secured home-court advantage in the first round of the upcoming NBA playoffs.But Denver still could improve its seeding with two games left and will try to do so when it travels to Detroit to face the Pistons on Friday night.The Nuggets (46-24), who are fourth in the Western Conference, beat Minnesota 114-103 on Thursday as Nikola Jokic scored 31 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to help Denver win its second in a row and stay within one game of the third-place Los Angeles Clippers.The Pistons (20-50) have lost three in a row and 10 of their past 12 following a 119-100 loss to the Timberwolves on Tuesday.Denver established its size advantage early against the Timberwolves with Jokic and JaVale McGee, who finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. It was the first time the two started together, giving the Nuggets another look they can implement as they prepare for the playoffs.”I think we can go with a lot of different options,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “As we approach the playoffs with now two games to go, we can try some more different things.”Jokic set the tone for Denver with 16 points in the first quarter as he and McGee combined for 27 rebounds.”I definitely think this could be a lineup in the future, especially with teams that play two bigs,” McGee said. “I definitely feel like it gives Joke definitely some time off his legs on the defensive end.”The Pistons extended coach Dwane Casey through the 2023-24 season this week. Detroit owner Tom Gores has been pleased with Casey’s leadership during a difficult, rebuilding season.Casey, 64, is 81-137 in three seasons with the Pistons. Prior to coaching Detroit, Casey was the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2017 with the Toronto Raptors.