We meet again.
After scoring 124 points in their 2018 preseason debut, the Denver Nuggets are back in action Tuesday night when, for the second time in three days, they will face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets have been in California for 8 days, having held training camp in San Diego last week before flying up to Los Angeles on Monday morning. Holding camp on the road has given a sort of “road trip” feel so in many ways, Tuesday night’s game feels like the final game of a long road trip.
Denver will look to build off of their hot-shooting performance on Sunday, a game in which the Nuggets outscored the Lakers by 15 points from behind the three-point line. Juancho Henangomez and Malik Beasley had the hot hands in that game but the Nuggets have no shortage of players who are capable of getting hot on any given night. Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, and Will Barton all had off shooting nights so look for them to bounce back in their second opportunity against the purple and gold.
Like Sunday’s game in San Diego, Tuesday’s game can be found on national television, this time on TNT. While the broadcast team and media will be fixated on LeBron and the high-profile Lakers, this game provides another chance for the Nuggets to showcase why they have become a sort of NBA underground favorite and viewed by many to be front runners to make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.
Who: Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers
When: 7:30 PM MDT
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles California
How to watch/listen: TNT
Rival Blog: Silver Screen and Roll
Gary Harris - hamstring (questionable) Isaiah Thomas - hip (out), Michael Porter Jr. - back (out), Jarred Vanderbilt - foot (out), Lonzo Ball - knee (doubtful), Moritz Wagner - contusion (doubtful)
Keep an eye out for:
There were stretches during the first half of Sunday’s game where Murray looked like the best player on the court. After battling a sore ankle coming into training camp, Murray exited the game and did not return. It was unfortunate since he could’ve easily scored 25 or more points had he played the same amount of minutes as some of the other starters. Nonetheless, Murray looked really good in his first preseason game. A repeat performance could turn some heads around the league, even if it is only preseason.
The starting lineup
The first question is the availability of Gary Harris who is nursing a minor hamstring strain. If he is ruled out for Tuesday’s game, I’m curious to see if head coach Michael Malone will stay with Torrey Craig in the starting lineup or try out a completely different look. The preseason is a great time to experiment with different lineup combinations so there’s a chance Malone switches things up and starts Juancho Hernangomez, Trey Lyles, or Malik Beasley in Harris’s place.
The second unit
The Nuggets’ bench was incredible in Sunday’s win over the Lakers, exploding for 76 of the team’s 124 points. Bench scoring was an issue last season. In game one of the preseason, the team looked like they had a much more clear identity with Monte Morris at the helm, Trey Lyles as a secondary option both as a scorer and creator, and with Mason Plumlee providing a bit of everything on both ends of the floor. It also helps that Hernangomez and Beasley combined to shoot 9 for 12 from behind the three-point line.
One of the most interesting aspects of Sunday’s game was the Lakers’ super smallball lineup against Denver’s more traditional, “big” lineups featuring at least one true center. We can expect similar strategies in Tuesday’s game with Denver trusting that their rebounding and ability to own the paint will prevail.
Which player are you most excited to see on Tuesday?
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