The Denver Nuggets have enjoyed some much needed rest lately. After playing seven games in ten nights, the Nuggets have now played just one game in the last four nights. They get back on the saddle tonight as they visit the New Orleans Pelicans. These teams have already met once in Denver where the Nuggets won handily, 134-116, behind a big second half performance. Since then the Pelicans have won just one game (their most recent one against the Dallas Mavericks). Like the Nuggets, the Pelicans haven’t played since Tuesday so expect both teams to be at the top of their game.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (9-2) at New Orleans Pelicans (5-6)

When: 6:00 PM MST

Where: The Blender. New Orleans, LA.

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 and Fubo TV), NBA League Pass for non Nuggets market viewers. Altitude Radio 92.5 FM. Dress up like Grimace and hide with the Pelicans NBA Cup court panels when they bring them in.

Rival Blog: The Bird Writes

The Matchup

Injury Report: Jamal Murray – out (hamstring), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Tyson Hunter – out (G-League), Jay Huff – out (G-League); Jose Alvarado – doubtful (ankle), C.J. McCollum – out (lung), Trey Murphy III – out (knee), Larry Nance – out (rib), E.J. Liddell – out (G-League).

The Three Things

Key matchup: Bench vs Bench

Nov 6, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) controls the ball as Denver Nuggets guard Julian Strawther (3) guards in the fourth quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets bench has been a struggle since Jamal Murray went down with his hamstring injury and Reggie Jackson was forced into the starting lineup. However, they looked better on Tuesday with Jalen Pickett inserted into the group in lieu of Colin Gillespie and also with Christian Braun having his best game of the young season. The Pelicans meanwhile have put Jordan Hawkins, who had a huge game in Denver, back on their bench with the return of Herb Jones. Hawkins is still getting big minutes though and is still shooting very well. Matt Ryan also had a big game in Denver last go around. If the Nuggets want to win tonight they’ll need to curb those two and also repeat what they did against the Los Angeles Clippers and not be a total negative.

The thing to remember: Nuggets can take control of their NBA Cup group

Denver is 2-0 in the Cup and a win tonight will mean only the Houston Rockets would have a chance to prevent Denver from winning the group. The Rockets are 1-0 in cup play (they play at the Clippers tonight) and most likely would have to win out, including the game they still have remaining against Denver, to get the top seed (potentially they could drop a non-Nuggets game and win a tie breaker). A win tonight also would guarantee Denver no lower than the second seed in their group which would put the wild card in play for them. Michael Porter Jr. recently talked about how the team is motivated by the $500k bonus, particularly for the guys on smaller contracts, but at the end of the day they want to win this thing more than anything because of their desire to compete. They can take a big step towards that with a victory tonight.

The thing to bet: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over 1.5 steals (+125)

KCP has had a steal every game, however, he has not had two steals since the Nuggets played Dallas back on November 3rd. So if you want to gambler’s fallacy this thing and say he’s due that’s one way to justify it. Personally I look at the matchup and like what I see: Dyson Daniels, Herb Jones and Jordan Hawkins all can have some ball security issues, the Pelicans are in many ways playing without a true point guard and KCP should be able to jump in a lot of passing lanes as New Orleans continuously tries to feed the ball to Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. At +125 it’s solid enough payout for me to take the chance that tonight is a multi-steal night for KCP. Nuggets are 5.5 point favorite tonight and the over/under is set at 225.5.

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