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Preview: The Nuggets look to beat the Kings at home after suffering 2 losses in a row.

With a win tonight the Nuggets would crawl back to .500

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets and the Sacramento Kings will face each other for the first time this season. They will play against each other 3 more times this year. The last meeting between these teams came on February 6th, 2021, the Nuggets lost 119-114. In that game, Nikola Jokic had 50 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. Both teams have lost their previous two games entering tonight and will be looking to snap a small losing streak. The Kings currently sit half a game from the play-in tournament so they need every win they can get.

The Nuggets struggled to contain Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox, and Tyrese Haliburton last game as they all had 22 points or more. I think that will be some of the case again tonight. The Nuggets did not have Aaron Gordon in the last meeting so hopefully he’ll have a big defensive impact tonight. These teams do not match up very well as neither can defend the other teams’ strengths particularly well. The Kings are led by their fast-paced guards while the Nuggets are led by their slow-paced center.

The Essentials:

Who?: The Denver Nuggets (18-18) 8th in the West Vs. the Sacramento Kings (16-24) 11th in the West

When?: January 7th, 2022 at 7:00 PM (MST)

Where?: Ball Arena in Denver

Where to Watch/Listen?: Altitude and NBA League Pass. 92.5 FM Altitude Sports Radio

Projected Starters?:

Den: Facu Campazzo (PG), Austin Rivers (SG), Will Barton (SF), Aaron Gordon (PF), and Nikola Jokic (C)

Sac: De’Aaron Fox (PG), Tyrese Haliburton (SG), Harrison Barnes (SF) Marvin Bagley III (PF), and Damian Jones (C)

Injuries?:

Den: Aaron Gordon (Non-Covid related illness) PROBABLE, Bones Hyland (Non-Covid related illness) PROBABLE, Zeke Nnaji (Covid Protocols) QUESTIONABLE, Jeff Green (Covid Protocols) QUESTIONABLE, Vlatko Cancar (Foot) OUT, Markus Howard (Knee) OUT, PJ Dozier (ACL) OUT, Michael Porter Jr. (Back) OUT, and Jamal Murray (ACL) OUT.

Sac: Terrance Davis (Ankle) QUESTIONABLE, Chimezie Metu (Covid Protocols) OUT, and Richaun Holmes (Covid Protocols) OUT.

Rival Blog: Sactown Royalty

Three Things to Watch For?-

How will Denver defend the Kings’ fast guards?- De’Aaron Fox is one of the fastest players in the league if not the fastest, he is going to cause problems for many of Denver’s guards. Both Facu and Rivers are not quick enough to guard him in transition and neither are big enough to stop him from getting to the rim in the half-court offense. My first thought was to put AG on Fox but with the Kings starting Bagley III next to a center it would mean Will Barton would have to guard Bagely and that just won’t work.

Can Facu be the starter to let Monte run with the bench?- Monte Morris made his return to the Nuggets on Wednesday and despite an ill-advised three late in the game, he had a good first game back. Coach Malone decided to move Monte to the bench after returning in hopes of solving some of the issues that take place when Jokic is out of the game. While Facu is coming off a not-so-good game he has been very good recently, if he can continue to hit his threes at an okay percentage and continues to play his brand of defense I think he’ll keep the starting spot until Jamal is back.

Who’s going to step up?- We’ve seen the story of Nikola Jokic absolutely dominating games and still losing far too many times. Everyone knows he’s going to have a great game it’s just a matter of Jokic needing help and oftentimes not getting it. In the last game versus the Jazz, the Nuggets shot 3-18 on threes if you take out Monte’s 5 and Thrill’s 2. Excluding Morris, the bench made 1 three the whole game. If the Nuggets want to win this game they’ll need two or three role players to step it up and provide some spacing for Jokic and the Nuggets offense.