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Preview: Denver Nuggets welcome in Los Angeles Clippers for afternoon affair

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A little day basketball anyone?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA All Star Break is over and everyone is back in full swing as the the season heads to its culmination. The Denver Nuggets picked up right where they left off by securing a road win against the Dallas Mavericks last Friday. Now they head home to take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a Sunday afternoon game to kick off a four game homestand against some quality Western Conference opponents.

The Clippers can be considered a quality opponent themselves despite indications at the trade deadline that the team planned on punting on this season. Even though LA was (and still is) in the thick of the playoff hunt, they traded away talented forward Tobias Harris for picks and prospects, seemingly signalling that they were more interested in securing cap space for the offseason where its rumored that the Clippers are looking to make a big free agency splash. Somebody forgot to tell the roster though. On the court the Clippers are still chugging along behind Danilo Gallinari, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams and have won three of their last four.

The Basics

Who: Los Angeles Clippers (33-27) at Denver Nuggets (40-18)

When: 3:00PM MST

Where: The Can, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV, AltitudeNOW.com, the AltitudeNOW app and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival Blog: Clips Nation

Projected Matchups

Position Nuggets Clippers Advantage
Position Nuggets Clippers Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Patrick Beverly Nuggets
SG Gary Harris Landry Shamet Nuggets
SF Will Barton Shae Gilgeous-Alexander Nuggets
PF Paul Millsap Danilo Gallinari Even
C Nikola Jokic Ivica Zubac Nuggets
Bench Monte Morris, Mason Plumlee, Isaiah Thomas, Juancho Hernangomez Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Garrett Temple, Jeff Green, Tyrone Wallace Even

Injured players: Trey Lyles - out (hamstring), Michael Porter Jr - out (back), Wilson Chandler - out (quad), Luc Mbah a Moute - out (knee)

Key matchup: Nikola Jokic vs Ivica Zubac

A little Balkan bad blood matchup as the Serb and Croat face each other today. Zubac, while my countrymen and favorite current basketball player from the great nation of Croatia, is not on the same level as Jokic. The problem for the Clippers is he’s literally the only center they have. Boban Marjanovic was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of the Harris trade and part of the fallout from all of the Clippers wheeling and dealing at the deadline was Marcin Gortat had to be released leaving them with Johnathan Motley as the closest thing to a center outside of Zubac and Motley is raw to say the least. This game sets up for Nikola to dominate.

Key thing to watch for: a big game from the backcourt

The Clippers guards are no slouches. Patrick Beverley is an outstanding defender and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet give them a pair of long, athletic and exciting prospects. Williams continues to be the scoring dynamo off the bench that he always has. However, with Wilson Chandler and Luc Mbah a Moute on the mend, not only are the Clippers undersized in the post, but across their front court as well. The Nuggets similarly use three point guards, three combo guards and one true shooting guard in their 1-3 rotation now that Isaiah Thomas is back (at least if the rotation in Dallas is any indication) so the lack of size from the Clippers works to Denver’s advantage. This should be a run it up and down type of game with lots of scoring and that plays right into the Nuggets backcourt’s strengths.

Opening thought: Lets finish off LA

The Clippers have been a bit of a thorn in the Nuggets side. They won the season series last year and also dealt Denver one of their most embarrassing and impactful losses of the season down the stretch. This year they handed Denver it’s first blowout of the season in a classic mid-afternoon in LA affair. While the Nuggets have guaranteed no worse than a split of the season series, something about the Clippers bugs me. Maybe its the Gallo angle (though I hold no ill will) or maybe its because Lou Will has destroyed Denver so many times, whatever it is though I want to see Denver get a victory tonight and sow up the series win against the LA.