The Denver Nuggets (11-7) are back in action after a day off for the holiday, and they’re heading West for a matchup with the LA Clippers (11-8) as they look to win their second straight matchup following the overtime thriller over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Both of these teams should be near the top of the Western Conference all season long, so this game will likely matter for tiebreakers later on.

For the Nuggets, they should be at near full strength with their starters tonight, although there are still some bumps and bruises to iron out as of now with multiple game-time decisions heading into the late-night matchup. Nikola Jokic, Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all played more than 40 minutes in that game, so they’re hoping some reinforcements are on their way.

For the Clippers, it’s been an interesting season thus far. Kawhi Leonard is missing his 15th game of the year, and they’re also going to be without Paul George for the third straight game. The story of this team in the era of this duo remains the same. If they can get them both on the floor at the same time, they’re going to be a problem for teams to handle, but tonight won’t be one of those nights. 

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (11-7, 7-5 away) @ LA Clippers (11-8, 6-4 home)

When: 8:30 p.m. MST

Where: Arena

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

Rival Blog: Clips Nation

Expected Starting Lineups:

LAC: PG Reggie Jackson, SG Terance Mann, SF Amir Coffey, PF Marcus Morris, C Ivica Zubac

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg), Nikola Jokic (hip), Michael Porter Jr. (heel), Ish Smith (calf), Jeff Green (knee), Paul George (hamstring), Luke Kennard (calf), Kawhi Leonard (ankle)

Three Things to Watch

Get the Others Going

On Wednesday, we saw the trio of Brown, Jokic and Gordon do a lot of the heavy lifting, and they’re going to be a little gassed in this game more than likely. One small thing that can help that will be the play of Murray and MPJ. Prior to his recent shooting slump, MPJ couldn’t miss from outside, and we’re still waiting on Murray to really regain that pre-injury form. A strong night from those two would go a long way. 

Keep a Lead

Outside of the game against the Chicago Bulls, the Nuggets have struggled to maintain leads this season. They’ve blown leads of 15 or more on multiple occasions against different teams, and those are going to come back and bite you in multiple ways. You’ll lose games, or, in games that you win, you’ll have to expend a lot more energy than you should have. With the firepower missing from the Clippers’ lineup, Denver needs to get out to a lead and keep LA at bay.

Denver’s Bench Minutes

Denver’s second unit, when fully stocked, has some dudes on it. It’ll be interesting to see who is active tonight, because they can have some success in this matchup as the Clippers will likely be going deeper into their reserves for this one. It would be good to see Denver get a lead and get guys like Christian Braun and Zeke Nnaji more minutes on the floor to get them more experience before the end of the year.