Preview: Denver Nuggets looking for a win against the LA Clippers

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets (22-20) are back in action tonight after a much needed few days off. Tonight, they get the chance to exact revenge on the LA Clippers (22-23) who completed a 25-point comeback against the Nuggets in Los Angeles last week. These two teams are currently in the middle of the pack in a crowded Western Conference that seems to flip night after night.

For Denver, they remain in a stretch of ups and downs on a night-to-night basis. After thoroughly thumping the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, they followed that up by getting blown out in the fourth quarter by the Utah Jazz the next night. This is the last time the Nuggets will have more than one night off between games until the All-Star Break. This game needs to be a springboard for them to string some games together.

For LA, despite not having their superstar duo to lead them, they’re finding ways to scratch and claw to wins on a nightly basis. While there has been some positive momentum on the idea that Kawhi Leonard could return sooner than expected, he’s still not suiting up for tonight’s game. They’ll need another stellar performance out of their guards in this one.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (22-20, 11-8 home) vs LA Clippers (22-23, 7-11 away)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

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 Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Clips Nation

Expected Starting Lineups:

LAC: PG Reggie Jackson, SG Amir Coffey, SF Nicolas Batum, PF Marcus Morris Sr., C Ivica Zubac

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

Injuries: Paul George (elbow), Luke Kennard (conditioning), JaMychal Green (covid), Austin Rivers (illness)

Three Things to Watch

Nikola Jokic

It’s no secret that this team goes as Nikola Jokic goes. When he’s having a great night, he’s one of the most unstoppable forces in the NBA. His ability to shoot away from the rim as well as post up defenders of all sizes make a mismatch nightmare. Jokic doesn’t have to play flawlessly for his team to win, but they struggle a whole lot more when he isn’t lighting it up or on the floor altogether. If they want a win, they’ll go as Jokic goes.

Wing Play

Aaron Gordon up 30 points, which is his high as a Nugget, on 11-of-16 shooting and 7-of-7 from the free-throw line in their matchup last week, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done. He likely won’t repeat that performance, but, if he can be close, the team also has Will Barton this week who missed the previous matchup. If those two can play above-average basketball, Denver should be in a great spot.

Bench Play

In Sunday’s loss to the Jazz, the Nuggets’ bench was absolutely atrocious. Of the four players who played 10 or more minutes off of the bench, Zeke Nnaji was the “best” of the four as a -27 in his minutes on the floor. The second unit as a whole was a combined 4-of-17 from 3-point range. In their previous matchup with the Clippers, the reserves scored 19 points while shooting 1-of-15 from 3-point range. If they can be better, not necessarily good, but better than they’ve been, Denver should be in a good spot.

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