Update (11:29AM): According to Chris Dempsey with the Denver Post, Nikola Jokic is a go! This is not a drill!
Jokic will be on a minute restriction, but not a terribly stringent one, #Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) February 3, 2017
It’s been a rough week for the Denver Nuggets. First they dropped a last minute game against the Los Angeles Lakers, then got thoroughly outplayed against the Memphis Grizzlies. On top of that, the team has suffered so many injuries that they’re likely to be getting MRIs at a bulk discount and now they head into one of the toughest stretches of their 2016-2017 schedule. First up is the Milwaukee Bucks who luckily have been struggling even worse than the Nuggets. The Bucks are just 1-9 in their last ten games and currently are on a four game losing streak.
That is not to say the team is not dangerous because they certainly are. They are lead by the NBA’s next superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo, the lengthy, athletic do it all forward who also finds himself handling point guard duties on a regular basis. They also have Jabari Parker, an exciting forward prospect who looks to finally be fully healthy. Still, other moves such as the acquisition of Greg Monroe have not worked out. This led to the Bucks sending Miles Plumlee to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert to shore up center depth but given the fact that the deal was executed just yesterday it’s unlikely either of Milwaukee’s two new additions will play.
Who: Milwaukee Bucks (21-27) vs Denver Nuggets (21-27)
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: The Can, Denver CO
How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and Altitude Radio AM 950
Rival blog: Brew Hoop
|PG||Jameer Nelson||Matthew Dellavadova||Even|
|SG||Gary Harris||Tony Snell||Nuggets|
|SF||Wilson Chandler||Giannis Antentokounmpo||Bucks|
|PF||Kenneth Faried||Jabari Parker||Even|
|C||Nikola Jokic||John Henson||Nuggets|
|Bench||Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Emmanuel Mudiay, Juancho Hernangomez, Darrell Arthur, Jusuf Nurkic||Mirza Teletovic, Greg Monroe, Malcolm Brogdon, Jason Terry, Michael Beasley, Thon Maker||Even|
Injured players: Kenneth Faried - probable (hamstring) Nikola Jokic - probable! (hip), Will Barton - questionable (ankle), Emmanuel Mudiay - questionable (back), Danilo Gallinari - out (groin), Khris Middleton - out (hamstring).
Key match up: Jabari Parker vs Kenneth Faried
Parker and Faried should have a nice battle at the four spot today. Both are going to look to get the majority of their points at the rim or at the most just a few feet from the basket. Both possess athletic talent to finish at the rim. This is the type of matchup where Faried’s deficiencies on defense, namely guarding a player all the way out to the three point line, are greatly mitigated. There’s also a chance that Jokic plays tonight and if that’s the case we should expect Faried to be effective on both sides of the ball. Still, Parker is no slouch, he’s having his best season statistically across the board, including having his scoring efficiency at an all time high. While he’s not likely to torch Faried with a mid-range game that extends out to the three point line, he will be a handful nonetheless.
Main thing I’m watching for: bounce back game for Jamal Murray
Mudiay is still going to be on a minutes restriction and Barton may not go. It’s probably unlikely that Jameer Nelson also gets tossed four minutes into the game like he did against the Grizzlies, but you never know. Point being is Murray is going to get minutes and when he got big minutes last game he failed to capitalize. Murray let his frustration be known in the fourth quarter of the Grizzlies game when he threw his hands in the air in exasperation after finally hitting a three pointer late in the fourth quarter. We all know the Blue Arrow can be streaky. I’m looking for that streaky pendulum to swing the other way this game and hopefully Jamal can have himself a big night.
Opening thought: Must win game
The Nuggets schedule isn’t getting any easier.After tonight three of their next six games are against the three best teams in the Association and they’ll also get the resurgent Dallas Mavericks as well as the playoff bound Atlanta Hawks. This run will start tomorrow night in San Antonio against the Spurs. Throw in the fact that the Nuggets have dropped two in a row and that all adds up to if they can’t get a win tonight they might be staring a six, seven, eight or even nine game losing streak in the face. After all the hope and good feelings that were built up in January with Jokic’s strong play and Denver sliding into the eighth seed in the West it would be a real bummer if the team came plummeting back down to potentially as far as the thirteenth slot. Gotta get the W tonight.