The Denver Nuggets are rolling. They wrapped up a four game homestand on Wednesday to go 4-0 and extend their overall winning streak to six games. Now the Nuggets must prepare to play five of their next six games on the road, starting today. The Sacramento Kings, particularly when playing in Sacramento, have been a thorn in the Nuggets sides for decades. However, Denver did fight their way to a victory at the Golden 1 Center early in the season in a game they didn’t play their best, so perhaps they have gotten past their Kings hump.
The Kings have had a less than perfect start to their season. Billed as a playoff contender and young team about to break through at the start of the season, they have underwhelmed. However, they certainly haven’t fallen out of the playoff race as of yet and have had to overcome some tough injuries including star point guard De’Aaron Fox and promising big man Marvin Bagley missing practically the entire season thus far. Even with the injuries, the Kings have a pair of formidable shooters in Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic and may have found their answer at center in Richaun Holmes. Meanwhile Harrison Barnes is proving to be a very solid signing. Make no mistake, this Kings team is not someone Denver can overlook.
Who: Denver Nuggets (13-3) at Sacramento Kings (7-10)
When: 3:00PM MST
Where: Golden 1 Center. Sacramento, CA
How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
Rival blog: SacTown Royalty
|PG||Jamal Murray||Corey Joseph||Nuggets|
|SG||Gary Harris||Buddy Hield||Even|
|SF||Will Barton III||Harrison Barnes||Even|
|PF||Paul Millsap||Nemanja Bjelica||Nuggets|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Richaun Holmes||Nuggets|
|Bench||Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee||Dewayne Dedmond, Yogi Ferrell, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin James, Harry Giles III||Even|
Injured players: Bol Bol - game time decision (foot), Richaun Holmes - game time decision (head), Trevor Ariza - out (groin), Marvin Bagley - out (thumb), De’Aaron Fox - out (ankle).
Key matchup: Buddy Hield vs Gary Harris
A true matchup of a team’s best shooter against a team’s best defender. With Fox out Hield has become the de facto guy to control on the Kings. Slow down Hield, win the game, it should be simple as that for the Nuggets. Working in their favor is they have the front runner for First Team All Defense at shooting guard in Gary Harris. Harris has smothered opponents throughout the season and has shut down some of the league’s best. Don’t be surprised to see coach Michael Malone ensure Gary is on the floor for every minute Buddy is. If Harris can contain Hield then the Nuggets will have a very good shot at winning.
Key thing to watch for: Richaun Holmes
Holmes broke out for the Kings in the game against the Nuggets back in October when he put up 24 points and 13 rebounds on them. He’s started every game since. Holmes isn’t going to get confused with Joel Embiid anytime soon but his athleticism and energy make him a solid player on defense and creates problems on offense. He seemed to catch the Nuggets by surprise last time they met. Planning on seeing a heavy dose of DeWayne Dedmond, when the Nuggets got Holmes it looked like the early days of Nikola Jokic’s career where he struggled with the energetic and athletic centers. Hopefully Denver has learned their lesson and don’t let Holmes get the better of them again.
Opening thought: gotta bring that energy
Hopefully everyone has recovered from their turkey coma and is ready to go but this game has all the makings of a game the Nuggets let get away from them. First road game after a long home stand? Check. First game after a few days away from basketball? Check. Opponent you should beat but is dangerous? Check. Early afternoon start? Check. Count me among those very nervous about this game. If Denver takes care of business today it will be another testament to their maturity and growth as a team.