After getting a couple of nights of rest, the Denver Nuggets (48-24) are back in action tonight as they wrap up their five-game road trip with a matchup against the Washington Wizards (32-40) tonight. The Nuggets are looking to end this road trip with a 3-2 record while defending their lead in the Western Conference while the Wizards are scrapping for a spot in the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference.

For the Nuggets, they’ve bounced back a little over the last week. After losing four straight, they’ve won two of their last three games, including a strong defensive performance on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets to avenge their loss from a week prior. The Nuggets currently hold a 3.5 game lead in the Western Conference with 10 games to go. Every game matters right now.

For the Wizards, they’re spiraling a bit. They’re 2-8 over their last 10 games, and they’ve lost three in a row. They’re currently 2.5 games back from 10th place in the Eastern Conference, and that gap isn’t getting smaller with losses to teams like the Orlando Magic. They have to right the ship sooner rather than later if they want to sneak into the playoffs.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (48-24, 18-18 away) @ Washington Wizards (32-40, 16-18 home)

When: 5:00 p.m. MST

Where: Capital One Arena

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

Rival Blog: Bullets Forever

Expected Starting Lineups:

WAS: PG Monte Morris, SG Bradley Beal, SF Corey Kispert, PF Kristaps Porzingis, C Daniel Gafford

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

Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg) OUT, Kyle Kuzma (ankle) QUESTIONABLE

Three Things to Watch

Outside Shooting Needs to be a Priority

In the previous matchup between these two teams back in November, Kristaps Porzingis was ruled out shortly before the game started, and the Nuggets absolutely feasted inside. They finished with 141 points while making only four 3-pointers in the game. Now, the Wizards are starting two centers which reduces the space Denver will have inside. 3-point shooting should carry more weight this time around.

Push the Pace

More often than not, Denver plays as the slower of the two teams when they match up with someone. However, this is a situation where they can get out and run. Specifically, Aaron Gordon can take advantage in this matchup if he gets out on the break where he’ll be too fast for either of the bigs to deal with, and he’ll be too strong for the guards that get back on defense. If Denver is getting defensive rebounds with Jokic, they can afford to push the pace in transition.

Protect the Paint

Conversely to the first point, the Wizards are likely to focus heavily on their work inside the paint while the Nuggets need to work the opposite. They’re 10th in 2-point percentage and eighth in overall field-goal percentage. They were 19-of-39 in the previous meeting, with four different guys making four 3-pointers. They’re not known as a heavy volume team from outside, and Denver can’t give up easy baskets to them around the rim.