While it’s never fun to lose on the road, losing in front of the rest of the country is a great way to garner more attention and respect across the league. Tonight the Nuggets have a chance to show that they’re for real by facing off against a banged up Phoenix Suns team, who might be without the 2018 No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton, as well as their backup center Richaun Holmes.
If there was ever a night for Jokic, Millsap, Plumlee and Lyles to carry the team to a victory, tonight would be the night.
Let’s break this game down.
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has been suspended one game without pay by the NBA for leaving bench during altercation Wednesday night in Utah.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 25, 2019
Who: Phoenix Suns (11-39) vs Denver Nuggets (31-15)
When: 7:00 PM MDT
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
How to watch: Altitude, NBA League Pass, Reddit
How to Listen: Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
Rival Blog: Bright Side of the Sun
Injuries: Isaiah Thomas - out (hip), Michael Porter Jr. - out (back), Jarred Vanderbilt - questionable (foot); TJ Warren, DeAndre Ayton, Richaun Holmes - out, DeAnthony Melton - questionable. SUSPENSION: Nikola Jokic.
Three things to watch
Don’t lose to the f&%king Suns again. I can’t believe I even have to write this. The last time the Nuggets played the Suns, they were careless with the ball, shot poorly, and watched Kelly Oubre finish with a double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. They played one of their worst games of the season, and lost by nine points in a game that wasn’t really that close. With the Suns bigs out, there’s no excuse to lose tonight. Dragan Bender, a bad basketball player, is their only big. Get Jokic the ball, carve up their defense, and don’t get beat on the perimeter. We know some of the players don’t read the scouting reports before every game, but please, don’t let tonight be one of the nights they skip those.
Let’s play big. Trey Lyles has been the subject of a lot of criticism this season by fans, and rightly so — he’s not having a good year. But tonight should be a night where scoring 15 points is the baseline expectation. Lyles’ strength is getting the ball,
waiting a few seconds to kill the flow of the offense, reading the defense, and then beating his smaller, less skilled defender to the rim for a dunk. It’d be really nice to see that a lot tonight. Josh Jackson shouldn’t be able to stop him. Don’t let Oubre deter you from getting to the rim. It should just be a layup line out there against the non-existent Suns defense.
Time to see what the Nuggets are made of. How spoiled are we this season? It’s been three weeks since the Nuggets won more than two games in a row. They’ve been scuffling this month, with their defense struggling, as broken down here on Stiffs, which is likely due to fatigue. These are the toughest days of the season for NBA players — they’ve been playing basketball for a couple months straight, with no real breaks. They’re banged up, tired, and looking at All-Star week with hungry eyes. But for the Nuggets, this is a stretch that could set up what their goals are for the closing half of the season.
- 1/26 - Philadelphia 76ers (Embiid)
- 1/28 - @ Memphis Grizzlies (tanking, get caught looking ahead)
- 1/30 - @ New Orleans Pelicans (no Anthony Davis, underestimate opponent)
- 2/1 - Houston Rockets (guaranteed loss)
- 2/2 - @ Minnesota Timberwolves (probably a loss too)
- 2/4 - @ Detroit Pistons (road fatigue)
- 2/6 - @ Brooklyn Nets (no Spencer Dinwiddie, underestimate opponent)
- 2/8 - @ Philadelphia 76ers (Embiid)
- 2/11 - Miami Heat (give up 15 3-pointers)
- 2/13 - Sacramento Kings (guaranteed loss)
If the Nuggets go 2-8 over those ten games, they could be in a position where they no longer are thinking about hosting a playoff game, and might be more worried about actually making the playoffs. They have an 8-game lead over the 8-seed Clippers right now, but in a tough Western Conference, they can’t take anything for granted. Time to nut up or shut up, play some defense, and win some basketball games.
Nuggets 120 - Suns 105. It’s going to be very troubling if they lose tonight, because a loss would mean that Nugglife has been resurrected, and will never, ever die.