At not very long last the NBA regular season has arrived. It opened last night with the Brooklyn Nets stomping the Golden State Warriors and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers falling late to their neighbors the Clippers. Tonight the rest of the NBA returns to action, including our very own Denver Nuggets who face the Sacramento Kings in the quiet but still friendly confines of Ball Arena. The Nuggets will be looking to get off to a strong start to their 2020/2021 campaign.
They’ll have a team in a bit of limbo to beat. The Kings looked like a promising group just a season ago but a litany of injuries and the departure of Bogdan Bogdanovic may have stalled their progress. The team is still built around dynamic guard De’Aaron Fox, but former #2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III is yet to blossom and sharpshooter Buddy Hield has yet to elevate his game to the next level. There are certainly pieces to still like on the Kings roster and Fox will give them a puncher’s chance in any game, but they don’t have quite the look of a promising and up and coming young team that they did maybe just a season ago.
Who: Sacramento Kings (0-0) at Denver Nuggets (0-0)
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Ball Arena. Denver, CO.
How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy...unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. Altitude TV where available, League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Sneak into Ball Arena in a Rocky costume. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.
Rival Blog: The Kings Herald
|PG||Monte Morris||Malcolm Brogdon||Pacers|
|SG||Jamal Murray||Justin Holiday||Nuggets|
|SF||Will Barton||Doug McDermott||Even|
|PF||Michael Porter Jr.||Domantas Sabonis||Pacers|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Myles turner||Nuggets|
|Bench||P.J. Dozier, Zeke Nnaji, Isaiah Hartenstein, Vlatko Cancar||T.J. McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner, Aaron Holiday||Pacers|
Player availability: JaMychal Green - Out (calf), Greg Whittington - out (knee), DaQuan Jefferies - out (back), Jabari Parker - out (back)
Key matchup: Nikola Jokic vs Richaun Holmes
The low hanging fruit would be to go for the Jamal Murray/De’Aaron Fox matchup but I’m quite intrigued by the battle of the bigs tonight. Jokic looked in mid playoff form during the preseason and is primed to put together a big season with arguably the best shooting he’s ever had around him. You’ll get 25/1 odds on Nikola for the MVP award right now and I think that’s a decent bet. However, Holmes might be one of the few guys out there who can give Nikola some trouble. His energy, strength and athleticism make him the type of player that makes things difficult for Joker. You could even argue that Holmes got the better of Nikola in two of their three matchups last season. Consider this an excellent opportunity to see if Nikola has already progressed to the “unstoppable no matter who he’s up against” echelon.
Main thing to watch for: will the threes still fly?
More three point shooting was all the talk during the preseason, it seemed like you couldn’t get through more than one TV break without someone from Altitude mentioning it and why wouldn’t they? Denver absolutely looked to shoot the three more than they did last season and they had some notable success, particularly against the Portland Trail Blazers, when doing it. That was preseason though. The Kings aren’t what I’d call a defensive juggernaut and the length and size they have at positions like point guard and small forward are offset by the Nuggets equally daunting length and size at those positions. Plus, like everyone else, the Kings have no one to contest shots on a 7’2” small forward should Bol Bol get playing time. We saw the combo of Bol and Michael Porter Jr bury the Blazers at times with their ability to shoot over anyone, now it’s time to see if they can do it when the games count.
Opening thought: start it off right
A win is important tonight. Obviously its not a must win but the Nuggets don’t want any second guessing about whether their trip to the Western Conference Finals last season was legitimate. The Nuggets want to be taken seriously as a finals contender and part of doing that means taking care of business at home against the teams you are supposed to beat. That was an issue for them last year so they don’t want to start of this year repeating those mistakes. Plus this is the Kings we are talking about, you know coach Michael Malone is going to be geared up to try and beat his former employer. All in all, I expect an extremely motivated team tonight.