The Denver Nuggets are spending their Easter weekend in Los Angeles and wrap it up today with a match up against the Los Angeles Clippers. Fresh off a victory against the Lakers on Friday night, the Nuggets are looking to complete the successful trip to tinsle town today. They'll likely be getting a boost as Kenneth Faried, who has missed the previous five games, is expected to play today.
The Clippers meanwhile are coming off an exciting buzzer beater win against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday and have been enjoying two days of rest. They are hurtling towards another season with a playoff berth as the #4 seed as they've been able to overcome injury and off the court distractions. LA has a potent lineup which is led by one of the best point guards in the game, Chris Paul, and has surrounded him with talented shooters and athletic scorers (also Paul Pierce). However, their high flying, rim shaking power forward Blake Griffin begins his four game suspension today which resulted from an altercation with an equipment manager.
The Nuggets will need to be firing on all cylinders to get the victory today. Their young core of Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic have carried the scoring load as of late and Mudiay and Jokic each find themselves facing a tough defender in Paul and Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. The Nuggets bench has also been a huge part of their recent success and reserve big men Jusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne should have an advantage going against LA's smaller bench. Without a doubt it's a tall order to overcome this Sunday afternoon.
Who: Denver Nuggets (31-42) at Los Angeles Clippers (44-27)
When: 1:30 PM MDT
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles CA
How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE AM 950
Rival blog: Clips Nation
|Los Angeles Clippers||Denver Nuggets
|PG||Chris Paul||Emmanuel Mudiay||Clippers|
|SG||J.J. Redick||Gary Harris||Even|
|SF||Paul Pierce||Jakarr Sampson||Even|
|PF||Luc Mbah a Moute||Kenneth Faried||Nuggets|
|C||DeAndre Jordan||Nikola Jokic||Clippers
Will Barton, D.J. Augustin, Axel Toupane, Darrell Arthur, Joffrey Lauvergne, Mike Miller, Jusuf Nurkic,Jameer Nelson
Injured Players: Jakarr Sampson - probable (shoulder), Kenneth Faried - questionable (back), Danilo Gallinari - out (ankle), Wilson Chandler - out (hip), Blake Griffin - out (suspension)
Key match up: DeAndre Jordan vs the Adriatic Arsenal
Jordan is without a doubt one of the best centers in the league. While his offense is fairly limited to high flying alley oop dunks and put backs, he is an imposing force on defense and his combination of size and athleticism make him a handful. Jokic will get the first crack at him but his lack of strength and quickness could be problematic in defending Jordan, However, while Jokic was unable to get anything going offensively last times these teams met, he did a good job of limiting Jordan's scoring. Still, Nurkic's strength offers a better match up for Denver down low and the Bosnian beast has been playing superbly since working his way out of Coach Michael Malone's dog house. With the Clippers likely to play small often, look for both centers to take turns on LA's dynamic big man.
Key thing to watch for: Will the Nuggets show up?
The Nuggets have spent the entire weekend in LA, a city who's distractions are known for giving gray hairs to coaches. Additionally, they are playing an early afternoon game on the west coast. When faced with a similar situation in San Francisco last season, the Nuggets barely even showed up to play the Golden State Warriors the next day and got embarrassed. In a season that's all about culture change, all about accountability on and off the court, I can think of no better measuring stick at the end of the year than a game like this. Will Denver come out prepared and mentally focused for the task on hand, or will they have overlooked this contest in favor of recreation?
Opening thought: Sucks to have games on Easter
I know many guys have kids on the team and I realize they are compensated very well for the sacrifices they make, but it none the less sucks to be working on the holidays. Easter I think would be especially tough for the guys with kids. I got to spend my early morning watching my three year old run around excitedly finding eggs filled with candy and then demanding to take a bath with her new mermaid Barbie that the Easter bunny brought her so I can relate to how much it would hurt to not be a part of that. It's easy to get lost in the money and hype of professional sports but at the end of the day these are still guys like you and me with families who they love. Here's hoping they at least get home in time to share in the glazed ham and deviled eggs for dinner. Happy Easter everyone!