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Preview: Nuggets at Clippers

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Denver returns for its third preseason game in California, this time against the other LA team

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets return to the West Coast after a brief home sojourn for their third matchup of the preseason in California. This time they face the Los Angeles Clippers, who like Denver are undefeated in the preseason at 3-0, for whatever that is worth. The Clippers just defeated the Los Angeles Lakers (again, as Denver has) while the Nuggets are coming off a somnambulant performance against the Perth Wildcats.

It’s always hard to take preseason matchups seriously as either a player or fan, but each team would like a crisp performance. Both teams are working in some nicked up players and getting their rotations in order, which makes it hard to know what to look for other than improvement for both squads and the polishing of some rough edges. The final two dress rehearsals for the season are coming up - let’s get to it!

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

When: 8:30 PM MT

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles CA

How to watch: NBA TV

Injury Report

Isaiah Thomas - hip (out), Michael Porter Jr. - back (out), Jarred Vanderbilt - foot (out), Luc Mbah a Moute - calf (doubtful), Milos Teodosic - hamstring (doubtful), Tyrone Wallace - hip (out). Patrick Beverly and Danilo Gallinari both sat out the last game (rest) but should be good to go.

Three Things to Watch

Can the starters get it together? It’s been strange seeing the starting lineup so out of sorts while the bench has been a consistent engine for this team. It starts with Nikola Jokic as it always does - he’s been fighting through a jammed finger injury for the last three weeks or so, and his touch away from the rim has been dismal by Jokic’s standards. He’s been passive, Paul Millsap has looked out of sorts and with both Jamal Murray and Gary Harris sorting through their own nicks and minor strains it’s been hard for Denver to get its rhythm with the starting unit. There are only two games left until the regular season starts, though; Denver needs to find that rhythm quickly.

The bench rotation competition. Malik Beasley has been shooting lights out in the preseason (11 of 16 from deep) while Juancho Hernangomez had a great first game but didn’t come into the game until late in the second half in Denver’s most recent preseason contest. Torry Craig is Denver’s best known commodity as a defender but has some things to prove when it comes to getting his shot to drop consistently in the NBA. All three men are competing for time on a crowded bench that will allow coach Michael Malone to match other teams’ lineups however he sees fit.

He has offensive bench weapons, more defensive varieties and can go extremely big if he would like with a Hernangomez / Lyles / Plumlee bench trio if need be. But the end of the bench would like to get some big performances under their belts with whatever time they are granted in the final two preseason games. It’s always good to make that last impression before the season starts.

A spark. Denver’s starters have been off-kilter and the bench has been a steadily-improving machine the deeper they’ve gotten into games, but I would love to see Denver hit the ground running in this one and play with a sense of urgency. Yes, it’s just the preseason, but it’s about time for someone to find that fire in one of these games. Let’s ignite some fuel out there, Denver.

Prediction: 114-107 Denver in a bit of a shootout that gets sloppy late. We’re due for one of those. Also, bring me more Boban!

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Don’t forget to have a night out for the first Denver Nuggets watch party of the season on Wednesday, October 17th at the Rhein Haus! Come spend time with super-mascot Rocky, the Nuggets Dancers and your fellow Stiffs for the season opener against the Clippers!