The Denver Nuggets, winners of 10 of their last 12 games, are coming off a game against the Indiana Pacers in which their rookie, Michael Porter Jr., introduced himself to the rest of the league. Now the Nuggets head to the capital to take on the struggling Washington Wizards for the second and last time of the season. Despite Bradley Beal averaging a career high in points, the Wizards are greatly feeing the loss of John Wall, who is still recovering from an Achilles injury that he suffered last season.
Beal, however, is questionable for the game with a right lower leg injury that caused him to miss their game Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. This is just another injury in a long line of injuries that the Wizards have faced this season. Despite this, and despite their poor record, the Wizards have proven to be a good offensive team that will surely give the Nuggets a challenge on the defensive end. With the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks looming as the next stops in their four-game road trip, the Nuggets should do everything possible to secure this win.
Who: Denver Nuggets (24-10) vs Washington Wizards (10-23)
Where: Capital One Arena
When: 6:00 PM MT
How to Watch: Altitude TV (where available)
Rival Blog: Bullets Forever
Expected Starting Lineups:
WAS: PG Isaiah Thomas, SG Gary Payton II, SF Bradley Beal, PF Johnathan Williams, C Ian Mahinmi
DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Gary Harris, SF Will Barton, PF Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic
Injuries: Bradley Beal (leg) Questionable, Davis Bertans (quad) Questionable, Thomas Bryant (foot) Out, Rui Hachimura (groin) Out, C.J. Miles (wrist) Out, John Wall (achilles) Out, Moritz Wagner (ankle) Out
Three Things to Watch
Key Matchup: Gary Harris vs. Bradley Beal
If Bradley Beal is good to go come game time, Gary Harris will have quite the challenge in front of him. Beal is averaging a career high 27.8 points a game, in addition to 6.6 assists. Harris, on the other hand, has established himself as a premier wing defender in this league, having had success against players such as Devin Booker, CJ McCollum, and Luka Doncic. During their first matchup, Beal scored 14 points on 6/15 shooting, including 2/10 from the three-point line. If Harris is able to hold Beal to similar numbers, then the Nuggets should have the advantage in this game despite the Wizards ranking fourth in the league in scoring at 116.2 points a game.
What to watch for: How will coach Malone handle MPJ’s breakout game?
Two nights after Michael Porter Jr. scored a career-high 25 points a game in just 22 minutes, Nuggets fans will be tuning into this matchup to determine if Malone’s rotation will be adjusted, even slightly, to give more minutes to their rookie. Three games ago, MPJ scored 19 points in 26 minutes after earning his first career start. It is now official: Porter Jr. produces every time he’s given the opportunity. Will Malone now give MPJ at least 20 minutes a game on a regular basis, or will he continue to struggle getting consistent minutes? This game should be a strong indicator to see what Malone’s plans are in the immediate future for their rookie.
Opening Thought: The Nuggets should take this game seriously
The Nuggets have a tough schedule in the month of January, with 10 road games on the docket. Every opportunity to pick up a road game will be crucial in their success this month and at the end of the season. Given the Wizards’ struggles this season, the Nuggets should be able to come away with a win. However, the Nuggets have had a bad habit of playing down to their opponent this season. This should be treated as a must-win game as the Nuggets continue their road trip.