The Denver Nuggets are as hot as the rest of the league is cool. Current holders of a three game win streak, the Nuggets, along with the Oklahoma City Thunder, are technically the hottest team in the league in fact. Three straight wins also ties the team’s season high so while the streak in the grand scheme of things is not all that impressive (though in fairness winning seven of their last ten ain’t too shabby), the fact that the Nuggets are playing their best ball at the most crucial time of the season is encouraging and it’s even more encouraging to see Denver doing while missing key players to injury, which will once again be the case tonight.
However, what has been lacking in the Nuggets recent hot streak has been wins against quality opponents. The Nuggets only victory against a team with a winning record in the last ten games was against the Boston Celtics, who have been a bit of a mixed bag lately. Tonight Denver will welcome a likewise playoff bound team who has been playing .500 ball as of late in the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are of course led by their star trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan who remain extremely potent despite the recent struggles overall. Working in Denver’s favor though is the Clippers, who are on a back to back, will rest players for tonight’s contest, including some of the aforementioned “big three.”
Who: Los Angeles Clippers (40-27) at Denver Nuggets (32-35)
When: 7:00 PM MDT
Where: The Can, Denver CO
How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and Altitude Radio AM 950
Rival blog: Clips Nation
|PG||Jameer Nelsom||Chris Paul||Clippers|
|SG||Gary Harris||J.J. Redick||Nuggets|
|SF||Will Barton||Luc mba a Moute||Even|
|PF||Mason Plumlee||Brandon Bass||Nuggets|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Marreese Speights||Clippers (kidding)|
|Bench||Jamal Murray, Juancho Hernangomez, Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay||Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford||Clippers|
Injured players: Kenneth Faried - questionable (back), Danilo Gallinari - out (knee), Wilson Chandler - out (groin), Darrell Arthur - out (rest), Diamond Stone - questionable (knee), Blake Griffin - out (rest), DeAndre Jordan - out (rest)
Key match up: Jameer Nelson vs Chris Paul
CP3 doesn't have the offensive quickness that gets Jameer into trouble on defense but make no mistake, he’s still a potent weapon and could give Denver nightmares all night long. Perhaps more concerning though is the pressure Paul can provide with his aggressive defense. A savvy vet like Jameer probably won’t get too thrown off his game by CP3’s defense but undoubtedly Jamal Murray will find himself matched up against Paul at some point. The rookie will have to be at the top of his game tonight If he wants to avoid a plethora of turnovers.
Key thing to watch for: Bench/rotation
The injuries are piling up on the Nuggets and if Kenneth Faried is still a no go then Juancho Hernangomez will be the only power forward on the roster who will dress. In the past situations like this have made coach Michael Malone have to reach deep in his rotation for spot minutes, including the least desirable option of giving Mike Miller minutes at the four. However, the Nuggets faced similar circumstances the last time the Golden State Warriors came to town and all Denver did was tie the then record for made three point attempts in a regular season game on their way to a blowout win. Who knows, maybe being down three key pieces of the rotation and another valuable reserve will yield great results for the Nuggets.
Opening thought: A win tonight makes for a successful homestand
Thoguh this is technically the second of a three game homestand, it’s also sixth of the last seven games at home with one more game at the Pepsi Center to go before the Nuggets head out on a brutal closing stretch that features ten of the reaming fourteen games on the road. So far on this seven of eight run the Nuggets are 4-2, a win tonight guarantees a winning record over that stretch which was key given how difficult it will be to close out the season. A win tonight also sets the Nuggets up with a chance to steal a game against Houston on Saturday which would extend the win streak to five and really help Denver to put a stranglehold on the eighth seed in the West.