The Denver Nuggets have had a nice long break to recover and get healthy over the last few days. Three days off between last Tuesday’s win against the Dallas Mavericks and today’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Denver had an off day on Wednesday, practiced on Thursday and Friday, then flew to Los Angeles after Friday’s practice to spend the night in LA on a Friday night.
Things are going well for Denver, despite the unlucky injuries. Paul Millsap and Will Barton are week to week in their recovery timetables, while Gary Harris has participated in portions of practice. It’s not clear when they will return, but in their stead, Nikola Jokic has put on an MVP caliber performance. He has averaged 26.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.4 steals in his last five games, with Denver going 4-1 during that stretch. Denver has needed everything from him, and he has delivered.
Now, let’s see if he can keep it up against what may be a surprisingly tough matchup in the Los Angeles Clippers.
Who: Denver Nuggets (21-9) at Los Angeles Clippers (17-9)
When: 2:00 PM MST
Where: Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
How to watch/listen: Altitude TV, AltitudeNOW.com, the AltitudeNOW App and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
Rival Blog: Clips Nation
Injury Report: Harris is progressing, but he, Millsap, and Barton remain out and are week to week recovery wise. Michael Porter Jr., Isaiah Thomas, and Jarred Vanderbilt are also out. The Clippers, of course, are fully healthy with Lou Williams returning.
Three things to watch:
Nikola Jokic taking over again?
The Clippers don’t have a great matchup to face off against Nikola Jokic defensively. Marcin Gortat has veteran savvy but he’s not mobile enough when Jokic drives to the paint. Montrezl Harrell will likely foul out and doesn’t have the height/bulk. Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris don’t have the size to contend inside. LA’s best option may be to break glass in case of emergency on Boban Marjanovic again, who Jokic respects greatly as a fellow Serbian and doesn’t shoot a ton when facing him. Denver likely needs a performance from Jokic in line with his averages over the last five games. If they get it, they probably win. If not, they probably don’t.
How does Denver match up with the Clippers forwards?
Harris and Gallinari are playing great basketball right now. Each are threats to score from the perimeter and can shoot over the defense at 6’9 and 6’10 respectively. They are also adept at driving the lane and drawing fouls, Gallo especially (as Nuggets fans know). Will Juancho Hernangomez and Mason Plumlee be able to stick with those two? Will Denver have to go smaller to match up? Does Trey Lyles get some extra run? It will be interesting to see whether Denver gives way to LA’s speed or LA to Denver’s size first.
Is LA Nightlife Undefeated?
The Nuggets have had time off. Things are going great. They flew into LA yesterday and spent the night. Even Jokic went out. This picture is everything.
That being said, Denver has an early start at 1 PM Pacific time, and it should surprise no one if they look a little tired or come out a little flat. Can the Nuggets fight through it? Will they stay focused? Or will Michael Malone pop a blood vessel trying to figure out why Denver racked up 20 turnovers? Time will tell.