Preview: Denver Nuggets look for season sweep of Sacramento Kings

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (39-26) have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA since January 1st, and they’re going to look to keep that rolling tonight against the Sacramento Kings (24-43) as they look to complete the season sweep for the first time since the 2018-19 season after being swept by the Kings a year ago. Denver is playing their third out of four games in a five-day stretch, so they have to be wary of falling prey to the Kings with the Golden State Warriors on deck tomorrow.

If it weren’t for a dumb loss a week ago to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Nuggets would be in the middle of a 10-game winning streak that started prior to the All-Star Break. They’ve still won 9 of their last 10 and have the league’s fourth-best net rating in that span. With reinforcements possibly on the way, the Nuggets have begun to play their best basketball that we’ve seen all season.

The Kings have been struggling all year, and they made a push at the trade deadline to try and make their way into a play-in seeding spot. Unfortunately, since acquiring Domantas Sabonis, the team has a 4-6 record, which includes two losses to this same Denver team, along with a blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets on the road without Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. They’re currently four games out of the 10th seed in the Western Conference, and they need every win possible.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (39-26, 19-15 away) @ Sacramento Kings (24-43, 15-19 home)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Golden 1 Center

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Sacramento. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Sactown Royalty

Expected Starting Lineups:

SAC: PG De’Aaron Fox, SG Justin Holiday, SF Harrison Barnes, PF Trey Lyles, C Domantas Sabonis

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Richaun Holmes (personal), Jeremy Lamb (hip), Maurice Harkless (ankle), Will Barton (ankle)

Three Things to Watch

Sabonis vs Jokic

For many reasons, as long as these two guys are in the league together, they will always be compared to each other, and their matchups will always be exciting to watch. They’re both great passing big men that have modernized the center position with the way they play. In the first meeting of these two teams with Sabonis in the fold, he had 33 points while shooting 15-of-23 from the floor, while Jokic had 25-12-9 while shooting 60 percent from the field. If one guy blows his matchup out of the water, that will go a long way towards the winner of this game.

Slowing Down De’Aaron Fox

Since the Kings acquired Sabonis, Fox is averaging 27.5 points per game, and he’s drawing the Nuggets who allow the 2nd-most points per game to opposing point guards. Fox is averaging 25.3 points per game against Denver this year, and they’ve gotten lit up by point guards recently, such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 29 against Denver last week. Containing Fox will be key for Denver, especially because he likes to get out and run in transition, which isn’t an area that Denver likes to run in.

Non-Jokic Scoring

This one isn’t new, but it continues to ring true to Denver’s success. When he isn’t the one scoring, everyone else needs to step up. In their February 24th matchup, it was Will Barton who put up 31 points. In the February 26th game, Aaron Gordon and Monte Morris had a combined 44 points on 16-of-25 shooting. Scoring from others is what makes this team more dangerous because Jokic can’t be guarded 1-on-1, but a double team means someone else is open. As long as the guys around Jokic can score consistently, they’ll have a great chance at stretching their winning streak to four games.

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