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Preview: Nuggets look to keep the momentum flowing with another win over Sacramento

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The Denver Nuggets played well last night, but will need to did deep to find consistency on the road against the Sacramento Kings.

Jamal Murray attempts to block Ty Lawson’s pass.

Most Nuggets fans really want Denver to make the playoffs this year, but sometimes it looks like the players themselves don’t share in the post-season enthusiasm. Denver’s performance as of late has been about as consistent as the Springtime weather in Colorado, and they’re barely hanging onto their playoff position with a tough schedule up ahead. The Portland Trailblazers are hot on the Nuggets’ trail with the recent acquisition of dud turned stud Jusuf Nurkic, and one wrong move could land Denver out of the playoff running. The Nuggets desperately need some high level post-season experience even if it means that they lose in the process.

Last night’s game against Boston was another glimmer of hope that Denver can hang in there, but today they’re heading out on the road on yet another back to back to face the Sacramento Kings.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets @ Sacramento Kings

When: 8:30pm MST

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA

How to Watch: Altitude, 950am

Rival Blog: Sactown Royalty

Position Nuggets Kings Advantage
PG Jameer Nelsom Ty Lawson Even
SG Gary Harris Darren Collison Nuggets
SF Danilo Gallinari Arron Afflalo Nuggets
PF Wilson Chandler Willie Cauley-Stein Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Kosta Koufos Nuggets
Bench Jamal Murray, Darrell Arthur, Will Barton, Juancho Hernangomez, Roy Hibbert, Mike Miller, Emmanuel Mudiay Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Ben McLemore, Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Garrett Temple, Anthony Tolliver Even

Injury Report: Kenneth Faried- out (back), Nikola Jokic- questionable (illness), Rudy Gay- out (achilles), Garrett Temple- day to day (left hamstring)

Key Stat: W1, L7

The Nuggets won last night’s game against the Celtics, while the Kings are coming off a 7 game losing streak. The good news for the Nuggets is that the Kings also played last night, but they have the benefit of not traveling for their second night of the back to back. After trading Cousins, it appears as though Sacramento is no longer making a serious playoff push as they’ve dropped to 12th in the Western Conference standings, but that’s not to say they won’t be interested in foiling the Nuggets’ plans to hold on to the 8th seed. Sacramento has defeated Denver two out of the three match-ups this season, but now that Boogie is gone the Nuggets may have the upper hand.

Three things to watch:

How many minutes will Jamal Murray get?

Murray showed that he was more than capable of saving the day in the Nuggets’ loss to the Wizards on Wednesday, but he didn’t get enough time to do so. Again, last night Murray played only 17 minutes and brought in 13 points compared to Jameer Nelson who played 30 minutes and brought in 8 points. I’m unsure why there seems to be a hesitation with giving Murray more minutes, but I’m of the opinion that the rook has earned his playing time. He’s leaps and bounds better on defense than Jameer Nelson or Emmanuel Mudiay, and he helps the Nuggets get off to a good start by capturing momentum early.

Will the Nuggets decide to play defense tonight?

As Coach Malone said after last night’s win, “If we play a little bit of defense, we can be a really good team.” The problem is that we can’t ever be sure when the Nuggets will decide to commit on D. Denver came out strong on defense last night, and were able to hold the red-hot Celtics to under 100 points. The Nuggets’ offense ranks third in the league for number of points per game, and when the defense comes out ready to play the offense kicks into gear producing windfall victories like we saw last night. Let’s hope the Nuggets can dig deep and bring some effort in yet another back to back.

How badly do the Nuggets want it?

At the beginning of the season, the Nuggets set a team goal of making it to the playoffs. Some nights they look like the team we all know they can be, and then other nights...well...you get the idea. In the end, it’s going to come down to want-to. The Portland Trailblazers have Denver’s number, and Jusuf Nurkic seems to be motivated to show Denver what they gave up by trading him. If the Nuggets want to make it to the playoffs they had better figure out how to be consistent. They have very little room for error, and tonight’s game is another must win.