The Denver Nuggets are coming off a win in Los Angeles last night, and they promptly hopped onto an airplane to Northern California where tonight they face the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are looking to build on last season where they finally got back to the postseason but flamed out quickly. This year they are sitting in the middle of the pack in the playoff crowd and are unlikely to achieve as high as a three seed like they did last season, but still look like a strong contender to earn an outright playoff spot. They are led by stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and have built a nice, young core around them with players like Keegan Murray, Kevin Heurter and Davion Mitchell. All that being said, they are coming off a loss against…checks notes…the 7 win (now 8!) Detroit Pistons. They also stood pat at the trade deadline, much to the chagrin of their fans. Still, the Kings have the rest and home court advantage and Sacramento is one of the toughest places to play in all the association.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (36-16) at Sacramento Kings (29-21)

When: 8:00PM MST

Where: Oh look, another arena named after a bank even though nearly half of it was paid for with city funds…arena. Sacramento, CA.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy….unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. Altitude TV where available (Altitude is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream & Fubo TV). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5. Show up with a crumpled piece of paper and say you’re from a team the Kings executed a trade with but the paper acknowledgement fell between the seats of your car…you’re sorry (actual trade offer was just a one year membership to the jelly of the month club).

Rival Blog: Kings Herald

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Kings Advantage
PG Jamal Murray De’Aaron Fox Even
SG Justin Holiday Kevin Huerter Kings
SF Michael Porter Jr. Keegan Murray Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon Harrison Barnes Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Domantas Sabonis Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, DeAndre Jordan Malik Monk, Trey Lyles, Davion Mitchell, Sasha Vezenkov Even


Injury Report*: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – questionable (hamstring), Jamal Murray – questionable (shoulder), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Chris Duarte – out (ankle), Jordan Ford – out (G-League), Jalen Slawson – out (G-League).*The Nuggets injury report was not published at the time of writing.

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Nikola Jokic vs Domantas Sabonis

Feb 26, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) collides with Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (10) in the fourth quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets vs the Kings is always going to come down to two matchups with these cores: Jamal Murray vs De’Aaron Fox and Nikola Jokic vs Domantas Sabonis. Realistically you could pick either one as the marquee matchup for tonight. The Kings use Sabonis in a lot of the ways the Nuggets use Jokic. He’s a quality passing big who can find cutters and runs the DHO very well. He also has an excellent post game to force double teams and can find the open shooter out of those. He’s not as good as Jokic, no one is, but he might be the closest thing to him (it’s Sabonis or Alperen Sengun). Last time these two teams saw each other Joker had a monster triple double but generally speaking Jokic doesn’t pile up the assists in this matchup which tells you the Kings are comfortable (or at least as comfortable as they can be) letting Sabonis take Joker one on one. Whether that’s an effective strategy or not is up for debate, Joker has combined for 76 points in his last two matchups against Domantas.

The thing to remember: it’s personal for Michael Malone

I don’t think coach Malone is ever going to get over the Kings firing him. He absolutely did not deserve to be fired when he was right in the middle of getting the team on the path to winning but Demarcus Cousins got meningitis, the team went on a losing streak and Malone was unceremoniously shown the door. He was so angry about it that it carried over to his family and they all refused to wear purple even though according to Malone it’s his wife’s favorite color. He then lost his first 5 games against his former team to add insult to injury. Since then he’s righted the ship though and has  a winning record against Sacramento. I have a feeling he’ll never be satisfied. Even though it’s a tough road B2B, I can guarantee you the coach is laser focused on a W tonight.

The thing to bet: Jokic over 1.5 threes (+180)

Jokic has been shooting more threes lately (he shot six in LA last night) and he has been shooting them much more efficiently in 2024. Two threes is a big ask, I recognize that, but he’s hit that number in three of his last seven games so at +180 those numbers are working in our favor.