The Denver Nuggets are coming off an unBolievable win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Now they prepare for a second meaningless yet invaluable contest with fellow Western Conference foe the New Orleans Pelicans. Unfortunately we will not get the stellar rookie matchup of brawn vs length in Zion Williamson vs Bol Bol. According to Christian Clark of the Times Picayune, Williamson has just returned to the Disney bubble after attending a personal matter and is still in quarantine. No matter, as Bol is the real show in the bubble anyways.
After a dominating performance in his debut, surrounded by a lineup of giants, Bol should be looking to expand on his success with some more traditional lineups tonight. The Nuggets were missing Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Will Barton in the last contest but at least some of those guys, in theory, should play this time around. Murray and Barton have been in Orlando since the bubble opened so it’s a good bet that they’ll be on the court. Meanwhile, according to Kendra Andrews of the Athletic, Torrey Craig and Gary Harris both attended practice, while Keita Bates-Diop just arrived in Orlando and Monte Morris is scheduled to make the trip today. Michael Porter Jr was also spotted getting in a few shots yesterday as he clears the remainder of his bubble protocols to get back in action.
Who: Denver Nuggets (1-0) vs New Orleans Pelicans (1-0)
When: 6:30 PM MDT
Where: The Magical Kingdom. Orlando, FL.
How to watch: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers.
Rival Blog: The Bird Writes
Key matchup: Nikola Jokic vs Derrick Favors
The Nuggets have won one matchup and lost one matchup against the Pelicans when Favors played this season, Jokic performed well in both. However, as we saw in his Utah days, Favors is one of the players who does a better job than most at containing Nikola as best you can. Favors sat out the Pelicans first scrimmage as a precaution, so he should be fresh and anxious to see his first action against an opponent in many months. I won’t be surprised if Nikola doesn’t play a ton tonight, given he played a fair amount in the first game and I figure coach will probably try to get him some rest at least a little.
Key thing to watch for: that would be Bol Bol
Denver’s 7’2” rookie set the basketball world on fire with his 16 point, 10 rebound, 6 block performance against the Wizards. Everyone is surely going to be anxious to see if he can follow up his big debut with another solid outing. The level of difficulty increases with New Orleans, who boast talented bigs like the aforementioned Favors and rookie Jaxon Hayes. The thing about Bol’s game on Wednesday was it didn’t look particularly difficult. While yes there were some noticeable rookie mistakes, it was pretty clear he had no problem playing with NBA level talent. Expect all eyes to be on Denver’s secret weapon from the moment the game tips.
Opening thought: health is all that matters
While it’s going to be fun to see a couple more Nuggets players get back into action and any sports competition right now is welcome entertainment, above all else the goal for tonight is just stay healthy. The games start to count next week. Guys should be able to continue to knock some rust off and get back into the flow of playing real live basketball but I still don’t expect anyone to be going 100%. As long as everyone makes it through with a clean bill of health then I’m totally fine with Jokic getting six turnovers because he’s out there just experimenting with crazy passes he may unleash to perfection at some point in the playoffs.