The Denver Nuggets have just two preseason games remaining before the games start to count for real and they are both against the same opponent: the Los Angeles Clippers. Both contests will be in L.A. at arena. The Clippers are once again looking to capitalize this season on their star duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. After trading for George two years ago, the Clippers have been a perennial playoff team but injuries have prevented them from making a Finals run. It also can be argued that they would have been better off not trading for George, and instead pairing Leonard with Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who was the primary piece OKC received in the George trade (along with a truck load of draft picks). Still, the talent of the team’s stars is undeniable and they are bolstered by roster depth that includes strong veterans such as Russell Westbrook, Ivica Zubac, Terrance Mann, Norman Powell and former Nuggets Bones Hyland and Mason Plumlee.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (2-1) at Los Angeles Clippers (1-1)

When: 8:30 PM MDT

Where: Arena. Los Angeles, CA.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. ESPN2. NBA League Pass for non-Nuggets market viewers. Altitude Radio 92.5 FM. Convince security you are actually Bones Hyland’s sound producer by handing them a mixtape of extremely mid beats.

Rival blog: 213 Hoops

The Matchup

Injury report: Jamal Murray – questionable (wrist), Michael Porter Jr – out (ankle), Christian Braun – out (calf); Jay Huff – out (ribs), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Brandon Boston Jr. – out (knee).

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Will Malone be back?

Coach Michael Malone has been dealing with far more important things than basketball while on bereavement leave following the death of his father. Acting coach David Adelman stated that he thought Malone would rejoin the team in Los Angeles this week but it remains to be seen whether that will be for the Tuesday night game or for the Thursday night game. If Malone does return for both games then I’d expect a motivated Nuggets team. There is no doubt that this team is very bonded with their coach and that these guys will go to battle for him. I can’t think of a better way to welcome coach back than by playing Moach brand basketball on the way to a victory.

The thing to remember: These teams aren’t fond of each other

The Clippers and Nuggets don’t have a ton of history but these respective cores have some bad blood between them. Denver of course came back from a 3-1 deficit against LA during the 2020 playoffs in the bubble. That run was sparked by Marcus Morris Sr. trash talking Paul Millsap in game 5.  Millsap is no longer playing in the league but Morris is still on the Clippers, though he is fairly disgruntled after being included in a trade for Malcolm Brogdon in the Kristaps Porzingis deal that the Clippers backed out of due to concerns about Brogdon’s health. There’s also the bad blood between Jokic and Morris’ brother Markieff after he F’d around and found out when he gave Nikola a cheap shot. Add in the fact that George was ridiculed heavily for hitting the side of the backboard on a three point attempt during game 7 of the aforementioned playoff series and I’m guessing the Clippers all in all aren’t that fond of Denver. Will the “rivalry” get more juice tonight? Probably not given that it’s still only preseason but you never know.

The thing to bet

There’s no lines out at time of publishing so take the night off from gambling on the preseason. If a line does come out prior to the game I imagine it’ll be similar to what we’ve seen: essentially a toss up with the road team getting the plus money. My advice has always been that you might as well take the plus money on a coin flip and if Malone returns I think you aren’t in a bad spot going that way. That being said, it’s a preseason game that doesn’t count and the Nuggets have spent the night before in L.A. so I would tread very carefully on putting any money on Denver for this game (or the next one for that matter).