The Denver Nuggets (43-21) were all but left for dead just over a week ago after they lost Jamal Murray and Will Barton in consecutive weeks. Since that second loss to the Golden State Warriors, they’ve won five straight games. They’ll be looking to make that six straight against the Los Angeles Lakers (36-28) who have recently gotten back to full strength with LeBron James and Anthony Davis returning from injuries. 

Denver is 9-1 in their last 10 games with their lone loss coming in a game that saw them shoot 38.6 percent from the field with Barton leaving the game less than two minutes into the contest. P.J. Dozier has taken his level of play to another level while Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. have continued their own impressive seasons of play. 

The Lakers are 3-7 over their last 10, and they’ve slipped down to the sixth seed after losing the tiebreaker with the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers have eight games remaining including tonight’s matchup with Denver, and, depending on how the third and fourth seeds ahead of them shake out, they could see the LA Clippers in the first round which is a matchup I think they’ll be trying to avoid.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (43-21, 19-11 away) vs LA Clippers (36-28, 17-15 home)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Staples Center

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: Silver Screen & Roll

Expected Starting Lineups:

LAL: PG Alex Caruso, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF LeBron James, PF Anthony Davis, C Andre Drummond

DEN: PG Facundo Campazzo, SG P.J. Dozier, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Dennis Schroder, Zeke Nnaji, Monte Morris, Will Barton

Three Things to Watch

AG & MPJ vs AD & LBJ

The Lakers gave LeBron an extended break to fully recover from his high ankle sprain, and the argument could be made that he was still back sooner than expected. Denver got beaten badly for a long time by these bigger wings, and Gordon was brought in to slow them down. Davis obviously isn’t a slouch, and the matchup between these four forwards is going to be a key deciding factor. 

Drummond vs Jokic

Jokic is en route to wrapping up his MVP campaign, and he’s not going to let Drummond get in his way. While Drummond may not be a great defender, he does operate in the paint and around the basket. His rebounding prowess is sure to limit a lot of Jokic’s free points that he gets off of tip-ins. It will be interesting to see if Denver elects to pull Jokic out of the paint to give cutters room to work or if they let Jokic just go to work himself. 

Guard Battle

Dozier hit another level on Saturday night against the Clippers with a 7-of-15 performance for 16 points along with a great effort on the defensive end. He and Facundo Campazzo could swing this game in Denver’s favor in a big way with the backcourt the Lakers have. If those two have a strong game, the effort the other three starters have to put in gets a lot easier.