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Preview: Denver Nuggets open 2018 NBA preseason against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers

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Basketball is here!!!

Los Angeles Lakers Media Day Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

At long last the wait is finally over! The NBA is back and tonight we have Denver Nuggets basketball. What’s more, the Nuggets happen to be opening the 2018-2019 season against none other than LeBron James, now of the Los Angeles Lakers, in what is sure to be a jam packed arena in sunny San Diego.

The Nuggets come into the preseason fairly healthy although Gary Harris popped up on the injury report with a left hamsting strain. He is listed as “questionable.” Newly signed (and former Lakers) point guard Isaiah Thomas is still nursing his hip. He will likely miss the next several weeks including the start of the regular season. Additionally, rookies Michael Porter Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt are still recovering from injuries that they suffered last season in college.

Lebron’s signing with the Lakers was the biggest move of the NBA offseason. Tonight, for the first time, he will don a purple and gold Lakers jersey (not counting a pair of $500 shorts, that he wore to summer league, of course). He won’t be alone in that regard as the Lakers overhauled a good part of their roster, bringing in veterans Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson and Javale McGee. No doubt the Lakers will be an interesting team to watch all season as they combine some capricious talent with a young core and the best basketball player in the league.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers

When: 7:30 PM MDT

Where: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego CA

How to watch/listen: ESPN and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival blog: Silver Screen and Roll

Projected Matchups

Position Nuggets Opponent Advantage
Position Nuggets Opponent Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Rajon Rondo Even
SG Gary Harris Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Nuggets
SF Will Barton Brandon Ingram Nuggets
PF Paul Millsap LeBron James Lakers
C Nikola Jokic Javale McGee Nuggets
Bench Monte Morris, Torrey Craig, Trey Lyles, Mason Plumlee, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Tyler Lydon, Devaughn Akoon-Purcell, Thomas Welsh, Xavier Silas, Donald Sloan Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson, Ivica Zubac, Alex Caruso, Isaac Bonga, Joel Berrry II, Jeffrey Carroll, Svi Mykhailiuk, Travis Wear, Jonathan Williams ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Injured players: Gary Harris - questionable (hamstring), Isaiah Thomas - out (hip), Michael Porter Jr - out (back), Jarred Vanderbilt - out (foot), Moritz Wagner - out (knee), Lonzo Ball - out (knee)

Key matchup: Will Barton vs Brandon Ingram

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

The one change to the Nuggets starting lineup this season is Barton taking over at the small forward position full time. Barton himself noted that the offensive side won’t be a problem but on defense he’s going to have to work very hard to overcome bigger small forwards. 6’ 9” Brandon Ingram will be a good first test for Barton as Ingram’s height advantage and shooting stroke will present a challenge.

Key thing to watch for: rotation, rotation, rotation

The preseason is our first glimpse into what coach Michael Malone is thinking in terms of rotation and minutes distribution. Will Trey Lyles play at the three? Will Mason Plumlee and Nikola Jokic see the floor together? Can Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley get regular minutes? These questions are going to start to be answered over the next three weeks beginning with tonight. In particular I’ll be watching Lyles and Plumlee to see how coach distributes their minutes and at what spots on the floor.

Opening thought: Welcome to the 2018-2019 season, Stiffs!

Tonight not only marks the beginning of the season for the Nuggets, but in my eyes it also marks the beginning of the year for the Denver Stiffs community. While the news cycle churns around the clock, live games give us a chance to react in real time with other fans in our game threads here on ‘Stiffs. Our opinions on the team this season start to take form as evidence either for or contrary to them is presented before us on live television.

What is important to remember is that we are all here to share in the highs and lows of this team we love so much. We are here to create a community. We welcome every Nuggets fan around the globe to hop into our game threads and articles to discuss their opinions on how the Nuggets play, are coached, are built, etc. That’s in fact what has made this site so great for a decade long now.

To help understand what is acceptable and what is irrational, you can follow the links below. One is to the SBNation Community Guidelines, and the other to the Denver Stiffs Community Guidelines. As a rule of thumb, and especially when being critical, I always find it best to consider is this discussion about the team’s play, strategy, actions etc or is about something else. If the answer is the latter then it’s usually best left unsaid (cat gifs not withstanding).

SBNation Community Guidelines