The Nuggets, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers. Denver has lost five straight to the Clippers, who are coming off a 40-point victory over the reeling Suns and don't seem to be missing Blake Griffin much at all. They are 20-6 without their All-Star forward.
Denver on the other hand is definitely struggling. The Nuggets gave up 110 points for the third game in a row, which would have coach Michael Malone pulling his hair out if he had enough for that. Nothing about the Nuggets seems to be in sync at this point, whether it's style of play on offense or cohesion on defense. And naturally injuries remain a factor. Leading scorer Danilo Gallinari has a cut on his hand that is making him even less accurate than normal, while Jusuf Nurkic has been struggling with his recovering knee that kept him out of a recent practice and last night's game. The Nuggets will have to find a way to overcome their issues against a good playoff team in order to stop this slide.
Who: Denver Nuggets (22-35) at Los Angeles Clippers (37-19)
When: 8:30 PM MST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles CA
How to watch: Altitude TV
Rival blog: Clips Nation
Injured players: Jusuf Nurkic - probable (knee), Darrell Arthur - probable (quad), Jameer Nelson - questionable (wrist),Wilson Chandler - out (hip), Austin Rivers - out (hand), Blake Griffin - out (stupidity)
Kids forget so much after Break. Any teacher will lament how students seem to have forgotten their names over a holiday break, let alone the coursework. The Nuggets seem to be suffering a similar fate, as they are collectively playing as if these are pick-up games and they've never seen each other before. Offensive principles? Defensive schemes? Gone out the window like a boyfriend escaping an angry father. The Nuggets are young. Because we see veterans like Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari, perhaps we forget, but not a lot of successful teams are starting four players 21 or under. In fact, this year there are two teams with that many players that young, Denver and Milwaukee. Three teams have three players that young: Minnesota, Orlando and Philadelphia. Young teams struggle. Hopefully the Nuggets struggle will abate as their talented youngsters gain experience.
The Nuggets get the chance to increase that experience tonight, and with their tendency to play to an opponent's level it may be a more interesting game than is predicted. As Malone said in his post-game from last night, though, one quarter won't cut it.
Prediction: Clippers 110, Nuggets 101.