After beating the Philadelphia 76ers and MVP contender Joel Embiid at home, the Denver Nuggets head to Washington D.C. to face-off against the Wizards. The Wizards started the year off strong but after Spencer Dinwiddie not panning out for them and Bradley Beal undergoing season-ending foot surgery, they sit outside the play-in game. The Nuggets are 1.5 games back from the 5th seed but also only 1.5 games in front of the 7th seed. With Karl Anthony-Towns and the Timberwolves playing well, the Nuggets need to secure the win tonight.
The Wizards traded for Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline and in his time in Washington so far he’s averaging 21 points and 7 rebounds per game. Kyle Kuzma has also been playing well in a Wizards jersey, his averages have jumped to 17 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Kuzma’s rebounding has also improved a lot, he had a game with 20 rebounds earlier this season. But, the Wizards are 5-15 in their last 15 games and are coming off a loss to the Warriors where Steph Curry dropped 47 points on his 34th birthday.
Who?: The Denver Nuggets (21-15 on the road) Vs the Washington Wizards (17-17 at home)
When?: 5:00 pm (MST)
Where?: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
How to Watch?: AltitudeTV or NBA League Pass if you're lucky. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.
Rival Blog: Bullets Forever
Den: Aaron Gordon (foot) PROBABLE, Zeke Nnaji (knee) QUESTIONABLE, Jamal Murray (knee) OUT, Michael Porter Jr. (back) OUT, Vlatko Cancar (foot) OUT.
Wsh: Bradley Beal (foot) OUT.
Den: Monte Morris (PG), Will Barton (SG), Aaron Gordon (SF), Jeff Green (PF), Nikola Jokic (C)
Wsh: Raul Neto (PG), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG), Corey Kispert (SF), Kyle Kuzma (PF), Kristaps Porzingis (C)
Three Things to Watch for:
Nikola Jokic’s inside presence
It’s no secret that Kristaps Porzingis is a skinny guy and teams have issues running him at center because of that. Jokić is one of the best post players in the league so he should look to take advantage of the smaller Porzingis on him. The Wizards bench center is Daniel Gafford who can hold his own against Jokić better than Kristaps can, in my opinion. The Wizards overall are not a very big team so Denver should take advantage of that as a whole.
Slow down the Wizards shooting
The Wizards have numerous players who are good shooters and if any one of them gets hot it could be trouble for the Nuggets. Ish Smith, Rui Hachimura, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma are all average to above average 3 point shooters. Many of those players are not only three-point shooters either, Kuzma can score on you in a variety of ways if he has it going. But, with Aaron Gordon likely getting the Kuzma matchup he will likely not be the one to go off.
The offense can’t slack
While the Wizards aren’t in the playoff picture they are still trying to win games. On Monday they scored 112 in a loss to the Warriors, this team is nothing to laugh at. If the Nuggets offense doesn't go through any long dry spells and can consistently score with or without Nikola Jokić they have nothing to worry about. A few 10-0 runs are all it takes for the Wizards to get back in the game. But as I mentioned before, the Wizards have a small lineup that gives Denver a few mismatches immediately.