The time for moral victories and learning lessons is over. The Denver Nuggets are in the midst of a stretch run that has major playoff implications for no fewer than eight Western Conference teams. Generally, when the Nuggets face their early Sunday foe, the Sacramento Kings, one expects them to win. However, the Nuggets have been prone to drop games against lower competition, including this very Kings team, and have in the past tried to learn from those failure. Now there is no time for that. Even though the Kings are a team the Nuggets should beat, this is still as must-win of a situation as there has ever been.

Despite the addition of some veteran help as well as an infusion of exciting rookie talent, the Kings season has not gone as planned. Perhaps a dark horse contender for the playoffs at the beginning of the year, the Kings have fallen back into their all too familiar position of looking towards the lottery by march. The addition of George Hill was a disaster, and the Kings parted with him at the deadline. Rookie De’Aaron Fox hasshown those flashes of being great, but has also gone through the bumps and bruises of being a 20 year old point guard in the NBA. All in all it’s amounted to another forgettable year for Sactown but it doesn’t mean it’s a game Denver can overlook.

The Basics

Who: Sacramento Kings (20-45) at Denver Nuggets (36-30)

When: 3:00 PM MDT

Where: The Can, Denver, CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio AM950

Rival blog: SacTown Royalty

Injured players: Wilson Chandler – questionable (hip), Tyler Lydon – out (knee), Willie Cauley-Stein – questionable (back), De’Aaron Fox – questionable (back), Skal Labissierie – out (hip), Iman Shumpert – out (foot), Harry Giles – out (knee)

Key matchup: Jamal Murray vs De’Aaron Fox

If Fox is able to go then there will be an exciting matchup between two dynamic former wildcats at the guard spot. Of course, seeing how hard Murray has clowned Lonzo Ball as of late, it wouldn’t be a total shocker if Fox decided to rest up and secretly ducks Murray in this match up. Of course we jest, but there is a chance that this matchup doesn’t happen tonight. If it does, keep an eye on Murray on the defensive end. Fox has the speed and ability to penetrate that give the Nuggets guards fits on defense so if he goes, Jamal is going to have to be up to the task on that end.

Key thing to watch for: Energy out of the gate

Early game, daylight savings, inferior opponent. This has Nuggets let down game written all over it. However, as discussed earlier, there’s zero room for a let down game at this point. Despite being tired and asked to come to work early today, the Nuggets need to get out of the gate with energy and slam the door on any attempt at an upset early on. This is one of the those games that Denver flat out can not afford to drop and how they approach it will speak volumes about where this team is at mentally.

Opening thought: HUUUUUUUGE shoutout to everyone who donated!

The best part about today’s games is it is our HopeKids charity event! Over the past two months Denver Stiffs, the Denver Nuggets and HopeKids have teamed up to send as many kids and families sponsored by HopeKids as possible to today’s game. All told, we raised enough money to send over 600 people from the HopeKids charity to this event! You guys are amazing! If you’re going to be in attendance today make sure to wear your HoopSwag socks which were a big part of this fundraiser. Hit us up on social media, post in the comments or even seek us out at the game! We want to see everyone rocking their socks and want to be able to say thank you to as many people as possible. We’ve been blown away by the response to this event and it is yet another example of why you guys make Denver Stiffs is the best Nuggets blog there is. From the bottom of all of our hearts, thank you for your generosity, it means so much to these kids!