The Denver Nuggets (5-5) are preparing for a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets (5-6) as the two teams are looking to build some momentum after mediocre starts to the season. For Denver, they have a lot of big games over the remainder of the month, and this is where it all kicks off. For Brooklyn, they’re falling into a similar boat with a lot of competitive teams coming down the pike. With both conferences extremely tight, every win matters more.

For Denver, they had a friendly weekend with a matchup against the Covid-19-stricken Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks on the docket. After this game, every team Denver is playing till the end of the month are at least .500 or better. You have to take advantage of easier matchups when they come onto the schedule. 

For Brooklyn, they’ve been bit hard by the injury bug to this point in the season. Point guard Spencer Dinwiddie is already out for the season with a knee injury, and fellow point guard Kyrie Irving is dealing with some personal issues that are keeping him sidelined. As of this writing, he’s not expected to play tonight, but that could change before then.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (5-5, 3-1 away) @ Brooklyn Nets (5-6, 4-4 home)

When: 5:30 p.m. MST

Where: Barclays Center

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

Rival Blog: Nets Daily

Expected Starting Lineups:

BKN: SG Caris LeVert, SF Joe Harris, PF Kevin Durant, PF Jeff Green, C Jarrett Allen

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Gary Harris, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Michael Porter Jr., Greg Whittington, Kyrie Irving, Tyler Johnson

Three Things to Watch

Can or should they contain Kevin Durant?

Denver needs to treat this game similar to how they operated against the Houston Rockets earlier in the year. They let James Harden cook all game long while working to shut down everyone else. Against the Nets, with Irving out, you can operate the same way. The Nets have other players, but they don’t have anyone you have to be extremely worried about outside of Durant. He can shoot the lights out, but he can’t outscore this offense of Denver’s.

Nikola Jokic’s MVP Campaign

Right now, Jokic is tied for the fifth-best odds to win the NBA MVP award, and he looks like a great value right now. Over his last five games, which includes two games he exited early because of blowout victories, he is averaging 25.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game. Jarrett Allen is a solid young center, but Jokic is just playing at a different level early in the year. Compared to the slow starts we’ve seen over the last couple of years, this is exactly what all Nuggets’ fans have been waiting for. 

Keep Up Defensive Intensity

Over the last two games, Denver has been great on defense after a terrible start. It was also against the Knicks and a 76ers’ team that was missing the majority of their rotation. Can they do that again here? This Nets’ team is averaging the third-most points in the NBA at 118.5 per game, and they’re ninth in offensive rating. If Denver lets the Nets get scoring early, this game could become a problem for them.