The Denver Nuggets get a shot to show the nation what they can do against one of the best teams in the league tonight, when the play the Oklahoma City Thunder at home at Pepsi Center in a game that will be the second game on the TNT broadcast.
The Thunder are coming off a loss to the Washington Wizards sans John Wall, a game where Russell Westbrook had seven turnovers and Carmelo Anthony went 7 for 21 from the field in a 102-96 loss. Denver stole a game from Oklahoma City earlier in the season at Pepsi Center, but lost their matchup at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Who: Oklahoma City Thunder (30-21, 11-14 away) vs Denver Nuggets (26-25, 19-7 home)
When: 8:30PM MST
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
How to watch/listen: TNT, 950 AM - this will not be available on League Pass for live viewing
Injuries: Andre Roberson (out - patellar tendon); Paul Millsap (out - wrist), Tyler Lydon (out - knee surgery), Wilson Chandler (out - illness/migraine)
Three things to watch for
The Thunder big three (duh). It’s not that complicated, really. You know what you’re going to get with Oklahoma City. Westbrook, George, and Anthony are going to take a majority of the shots. Westbrook is going to be a dynamo, George is going to be efficient, and Anthony is going to spot up. The Nuggets will either limit their impact or get obliterated by them.
The most difficult matchup, in my opinion, is Paul George. The Nuggets have a lot of experience with Westbrook, and know they can pack the paint in hopes that he’ll shoot 3-pointers and miss layups at 100 MPH, which creates transition opportunities. With George, they can’t expect Barton and Torrey Craig to stop him. Chandler won’t be playing most likely, at least not for another week it looks like, and he’d be the best option against him. If the Nuggets have to worry about him scoring 35, things could get rough.
The Jokic vs Adams matchup. The Thunder’s lovable Kiwi (well, I love him) is one of the strongest blokes in the league. He will trash Jokic for offensive and defensive rebounds, and with the Nuggets guards’ propensity to run into screens, is guaranteed to knock them over a couple times tonight. Jokic can win any matchup if his offensive game is on, but he’s going to have to shoot better than 28 percent on his 3-point attempts to even give the Nuggets a shot to win the game on their final possession. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jokic only averages 6.7 total rebounds per game against Oklahoma City, his second-lowest per game average over his career, according to Basketball Reference.
Bench mob. The Nuggets bench has been depleted with injuries forcing reserves into the starting lineup, and players finding themselves in Michael Malone’s doghouse. Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler didn’t play a single minute against the Spurs on Tuesday, and both have lingering issues preventing them from playing for the Nuggets. They’re going to need a huge game from Trey Lyles, who is basically all the Nuggets have left on the bench, and there’s a chance he starts the game (not a good one, but it exists).
The Thunder’s bench is unreliable, with Patrick Patterson not playing up to his usual self, and their only other option being Raymond Felton lumbering his way into jumpers. Jerami Grant can block shots and rebound, but if the Nuggets start turning the ball over, they’ll get killed by the Thunder’s bench.
I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you baby, one more time again.
Oh, a score prediction? Sorry, I was just imagining what I’ll be listening to in order to feel happy after a blowout loss.
Oklahoma City 114 - Denver 101.