The Denver Nuggets were without their best player on Monday night when the Sacramento Kings were in town and they answered the call, particularly Wilson Chandler, to get the victory. Tonight they face a much more difficult task in the Washington Wizards. Hopefully the Nuggets will have Nikola Jokic back for the contest, but if not they’ll have to rely on the vets such as Chandler and Danilo Gallinari once again to help get them over the top.

The Wizards are led by their dynamic back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal. At first a team who stumbled out of the gate, Washington has since rebounded to become a formidable force in the Eastern Conference, currently sitting in the three seed. The Wizards also have a roster filled with solid shooters and dynamic wings, including the current leader in 3pt field goal percentage Otto Porter Jr. Additionally, to help bolster their bench the Wizards acquired Bojan Bogdanovic at the trade deadline from the Brooklyn Nets and that move has reaped immediate rewards as Bogdanovic has scored 27 or more points in three of the past four games he’s played in. Indeed, it’s no gimme tonight for the sky blue and gold.

The Basics

Who: Washington Wizards (38-24) vs Denver Nuggets (29-34)

When: 7:00 PM MST

Where: The Can, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and Altitude Radio AM 950

Rival blog: Bullets Forever

Position Nuggets Wizards Advantage
PG Jameer Nelson John Wall Wizards
SG Gary Harris Bradley Beal Wizards
SF Danilo Gallinari Otto Porter Jr Even
PF Wilson Chandler Markieff Morris Even
C Mason Plumlee Marcin Gortat Even
Bench Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Juancho Hernangomez, Darrell Arthur Bojan Bogdanovic, Jason Smith (RAMMIES!), Ian Mahinmi, Brandon Jennings Even

Injured players: Danilo Gallinari – Questionable (illness), Nikola Jokic – Doubtful (illness), Kenneth Faried – out (back)

Key match up: Jameer Nelson vs John Wall

Yikes, tall task for Jameer tonight. The Wizards of course have Beal at the two as well so it’s not as if the Nuggets can slide Jameer over to mask his defensive deficiencies, though they might anyways because Beal doesn’t have the other worldly quickness and sheer speed of Wall. Either way, Jameer is where the Nuggets are most exposed defensively in this match up and they will have to find a way to mitigate it as best they can. Wall is also a solid defender with the length to give Jameer major problems. Coach Michael Malone isn’t going to shake up his rotation on a whim but tonight is one of those games where the Nuggets might be better suited by giving Emmanuel Mudiay some burn. While Mudiay has had his struggles, he at least has the size and athleticism to try and slow Wall down.

Key thing to watch for: Consistency

The Nuggets have been frustrating to watch this season because every time it seems like they might be putting something together they go out and lay an egg. As has been stated, the Wizards are no slouch but they are also coming off a game last night in Phoenix that was a track meet to say the least. If Denver can maintain solid and consistent effort throughout the night they should be able to keep themselves within striking distance as the game heads into the fourth quarter and from there they will have the chance to steal this one from Washington whose legs will get get very heavy as the game draws to a close. However, if Denver comes out like they did against the Charlotte Hornets and has to play catch up early then the Wizards are the type of team with the talent to bury the Nuggets quickly and never look back.

Opening thought: Need to make up for the Hornets game

As stated, the Nuggets let one get away from them against Charlotte, a game that they needed to get in order to give them a good chance at a winning record over this 7 of 8 at home stretch they are currently in the thick of. With Washington on the SEGABABA the Nuggets will have their opportunity to get back on course by winning a game that most probably had penciled in as a loss. It’s certainly going to be difficult but the team can talk all they want about the playoffs, if they aren’t able to go out and get a win in a game like this when they need it then if they do make the playoffs it’ll be nothing short of a quick cup of coffee and on to the offseason. Not only does a win tonight help get the team where they need to be, but it also would be a massive boost to their confidence to be able to beat a top Eastern Conference team on the heels of the Nuggets getting their first win against the Kings during Malone’s tenure.