The Denver Nuggets (6-7) are preparing for a matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6) as the two teams are looking to build some momentum after mediocre starts to the season. For Denver, they have a lot of big games over the next month, and they really need to get rolling. For the Thunder, they’re focusing on the rebuild, and they need players outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to develop into productivity. 

For Denver, they just can’t get out of their own way right now. Nikola Jokic is playing at an MVP level right now, but the rest of the roster is not up there with him. They have yet to play a complete game, and it has been biting them repeatedly. In their loss to the Brooklyn Nets a week ago, they got blown out in the third quarter, and they couldn’t undo the damage. This is a situation to change that.

For Oklahoma City, they’re not going to be competing for a title this season, so their focus is just on developing and getting better. If they’re able to steal a win off of the Nuggets, which is possible with their 5-1 record on the road, that’s just a free win. These two teams have opposite expectations for the season, and the win is a lot more important for Denver than OKC.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (6-7, 3-5 home) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6, 5-1 away)

When: 5:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

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

Rival Blog: Welcome to Loud City

Expected Starting Lineups:

OKC: PG George Hill, SG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SF Luguentz Dort, PF Darius Bazley, PF Isaiah Roby

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Gary Harris, SF Will Barton, PF Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Michael Porter Jr., Greg Whittington, Al Horford, Trevor Ariza

Three Things to Watch

Stop Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Above all else, this is the primary objective for winning against the Thunder this season. No one else on the roster is averaging more than 12.6 points per game this season. Shai is averaging 21.6 points per game to go with 6.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds. He’s been everything the Thunder hoped for when they traded for him, but there isn’t enough around him for them to sustain long-term success. 

Nikola Jokic against the world

Nikola “Big Honey” Jokic is probably pretty annoyed at this point in the season. On the year, he’s averaging a triple-double through 13 games with a stat line of 25.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists. He’s also shooting 57.3 percent from the field on over 16 attempts per game. Someone help the guy out. He’s giving you consistent production every single night. He’ll dominate this smaller Thunder team, but someone get him some help, please.

Start a run

The Nuggets need to start taking care of business on their schedule. They’re 6-7 through 13 games, and they currently sit 11th in the Western Conference. They have yet to win more than two games in a row, and five of their seven losses have come at home. They lost just 11 games at home all of last season. They have to get a run going sooner rather than later when they have more and more games on the road.