The Denver Nuggets (51-25) wrap up the month of March with a trip south to take on the Phoenix Suns (41-35) on the road in the third of four matchups between the two squads this season. Denver has taken the first two games of the season series thus far, and they can clinch a series victory with a win tonight. However, with Jamal Murray unlikely to play and Nikola Jokic dealing with a calf injury that held him out of last night’s contest, things could get interesting.

The Nuggets hold a three-game lead in the Western Conference with six games left to play. Their magic number to clinch the top seed sits at three. While Denver lost last night, the Memphis Grizzlies lost on Wednesday night to help knock that number down more. Denver controls their destiny in the conference, and it will be interesting to see how they handle this final handful of games.

For the Suns, they’re in fourth place in the Western Conference, but they only hold a 0.5 game lead over the fifth-place LA Clippers. Every single game matters for them when it comes to securing home-court advantage for the first round. Additionally, with Kevin Durant back in the lineup, they’re using every game as a way to get everyone on the same page in terms of chemistry.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (51-25, 19-18 away) @ Phoenix Suns (41-35, 25-12 home)

When: 8:30 p.m. MST

Where: Footprint Center

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. NBATV. Show up in Phoenix. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Bright Side of the Sun

Expected Starting Lineups:

PHX: PG Chris Paul, SG Devin Booker, SF Josh Okogie, PF Kevin Durant, C Deandre Ayton

DEN: PG Bruce Brown, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg) OUT, Jamal Murray (injury mangement) DOUBTFUL, Jack White (illness) OUT, Nikola Jokic (calf) QUESTIONABLE

Three Things to Watch

Battle of the Bigs

Jokic missed last night’s game with a calf injury, and he remains questionable for tonight’s contest. If he is active in this game, how much is that injury going to slow him down. Additionally, with Murray unlikely to play, that puts more responsibility on Jokic’s plate. If Jokic is a step slow against someone like Deandre Ayton, the Suns could feed him and get Jokic into foul trouble early on, or they could just get a lot of easy buckets.

The Other Guy

In the modern NBA, it’s rare that you’re winning games on the back of one guy against the best teams. It’s not impossible, but it’s not common. With Murray out, if Jokic is playing, someone else has to step up. Last night, that was Bruce Brown with 19 points off of the bench while shooting 7-of-13 from the floor. Michael Porter Jr. shooting 0-of-7 from 3-point range can’t happen again. Who’s going to be the guy that steps up alongside Jokic.

Get Weird on Defense

This is just the fifth game Durant has played with the Suns. They have a scary group of starters that present issues all over the place. Your defense has had trouble at times this season, and this is the perfect game to try different coverages for a potential playoff matchup. Even if you struggle and lose the game, you’re learning what will or won’t work a month from now. However, if you see early on that the Suns are rolling on offense, you can’t just do the same thing over and over because you will get run out of the building.