The Denver Nuggets have found their way to the Big Apple on their three game east coast road trip. Tonight their opponent will be the Brooklyn Nets. The Nuggets saw the Nets just over a week ago and handed Brooklyn one of their biggest defeats of the season. In that game the Nets were on the second night of a back to back and playing in Denver, one of the toughest schedule scenarios you can draw. Tonight they are rested and desperate for a win as the aforementioned blowout at the hands of the Nuggets started a four game skid that they are still currently trying to pull their way out of. The Nuggets meanwhile are back to being healthy and looking to keep piling up wins against teams they should beat.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (19-10) at Brooklyn Nets (13-14)

When: 5:30 PM MST

Where: The House That Mikhail Built. Brooklyn, NY.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy….unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. Altitude TV where available (Altitude TV is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream & Fubo TV). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5FM. Dress up as the ghost of Biggie Smalls.

Rival blog: Nets Daily

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Nets Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Spencer Dinwiddie Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Cam Thomas Even
SF Michael Porter Jr. Cameron Johnson Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon Mikal Bridges Even
C Nikola Jokic Nic Claxton Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Julian Strawther, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, DeAndre Jordan Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, Trendon Watford, Dayron Sharpe, Dennis Smith Jr. Even


Injury Report: Aaron Gordon – probable (heel), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Braxton Key – out (G-League), Jay Huff – out (G-League), Collin Gillespie – out (G-League), Hunter Tyson – out (G-League), Jalen Pickett – out (G-League); Dennis Smith JR. – probable (back), Lonnie Walker IV – out (hamstring), Ben Simmons – out (back), Armoni Brooks – out (G-League), Noah Clowney – out (G-League), Keon Johnson – out (G-League), Dariq Whitehead – out (G-League).

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Nikola Jokic vs Nic Claxton

Dec 14, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) is fouled by Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton (33) in the second quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

One of the main reasons the Nets got blown out in the last meeting between these two teams was Claxton’s, and Brooklyn in general, inability to stop Nikola Jokic. Joker ended the game with a modest 26 points but he also sat for the entire fourth quarter. Jokic was 8 of 12 on the night and also got to the free throw line twelve times. He ended up with a 26/14/10 triple double. The Nets are unfortunately (for them) a team that really does not have an answer for Jokic. Claxton is a good player and a solid defender but he’s giving up over 50 lbs to Nikola. Brooklyn employs no other centers on their roster. You can’t give up that much size when taking on Joker.

The thing to remember: Brooklyn will come out motivated

The Nets still have the beat down Denver handed them last week fresh in their minds, and as said before, they are also on a four game losing streak. Expect there to be a large sense of urgency coming from them to start this game. It could be a scenario where the Nuggets will just need to weather the storm early on and then put their foot on the gas in the second half. Of course, the Nuggets also got to spend a full day and night in New York City yesterday so how much energy they will have to put away the Nets late in the game remains to be seen. I think we see a close one tonight.

The thing to bet: Jokic over 26.5 points (-135)

Easy money. As I detailed, the Nets do not have the personnel to defend Jokic and while they will certainly look to double team to force the ball out of his hands, there is still going to be too many opportunities for Jokic to to get down low and bully his way to points. Joker’s been in a bit of  a scoring slump lately but seemed to breakout of it a bit in the Nuggets last game when he dropped 31 points on the Toronto Raptors. It’s not the best odds at -135 but I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t clear 27 points tonight.