Despite a slew of injuries to many players on their roster, including former Denver Nugget Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers have fought to stay in playoff contention, and sit just 0.5 games behind the Nuggets with a 22-21 record. Tonight is the first of three matchups between the two squads this season, and could make a huge difference when the regular season ends and playoff spots are on the line.
Who: Denver Nuggets (23-21, 7-16 away) vs LA Clippers (22-21, 13-9 home)
When: 8:30 PM MST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: ESPN (nationally televised game!)
Rival blog: Clips Nation
Injury Report: Mason Plumlee (questionable - abominable), Jamal Murray (out - concussion), Paul Millsap (out - wrist); DeAndre Jordan (questionable - ankle), Danilo Gallinari (out - ass), Austin Rivers (out - Achilles), Patrick Beverley (out - ACL).
Three things to watch for
Sweet Lou. The Clippers guard is having an All-Star caliber season, averaging 23 points and five assists per game after being pressed into duty due to injuries. He dropped 50 points on the Warriors, helping the Clippers beat their division rival for the first time in years. He’s a microwave scorer, capable of heating up in an instant and scoring 20 points in a quarter. Gary Harris is going to have his hands full, and Torrey Craig needs to make sure to not be overly physical. Hopefully Jamal Murray heats up too, and we can see two guards just shoot fire all over the court.
Will the Nuggets wilt against a physical team? While Patrick Beverley isn’t playing, that hasn’t stopped the Clippers from adopting a scrappy, no holds style of play on both ends of the court. With end of bench players getting minutes, they’re not giving up their rotation spot without a fight. The Nuggets under Michael Malone are not a team that does well when another team gets in their face and challenges them. Expect the Clippers to try to gain that physical edge early and dominate the Nuggets to pick up what would be an easy win.
Is the Jokic-offense here to stay? It’s about damn time that the Nuggets stretched the floor on offense and let Jokic run the offense. Malone relented on his obsession to play two centers in the starting lineup against the Mavericks - let’s see if Mason Plumlee is healthy and back in the starting lineup tonight.
The Nuggets offense was electric Tuesday, with Jokic whipping the ball around the court while the players enjoyed the spacing that comes from them starting Wilson Chandler at small forward. Sure, it came against the Mavericks, who aren’t an especially talented defensive squad, but for one night, their 2016-17 offense was back!
Let’s see if Tuesday night was enough to convince Malone to abandon schemes that don’t take advantage of the Nuggets players strengths.
Jamal Murray is out with a concussion.