The Denver Nuggets have one more task to complete before the All Star Break: beat the Sacramento Kings. They potentially have another task to complete as well: play Isaiah Thomas. IT has been with the Nuggets all season rehabbing from surgery on his hip last March. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of he will make a decision about playing tonight this morning.

Obviously, if Thomas can return to anywhere near his 2016-2017 form then the Nuggets will become that much stronger. Regardless of whether or not he plays, the Nuggets still have a tough task against the upstart Kings. These are not your older brother’s Kangz, this is a young and exciting team with solid building blocks in their core. I often liken this Kings team to the Nuggets teams of the past two years. That young, albeit inexperienced, core is starting to figure out who are the guys they can rely on every night, they’re improving at a pace not many thought they would and they’ve reconnected a city to its beloved basketball franchise. All that being said, the talent edge and home court advantage are in Denver’s favor so they should be able to take care of business.

The Basics

Who: Sacramento Kings (30-26) at Denver Nuggets (38-18)

When: 7:00PM MST

Where: The Can, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV,, the AltitudeNOW app and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival Blog: Sactown Royalty

Position Nuggets Kings Advantage
PG Jamal Murray De'Aaron Fox Even
SG Malik Beasley Buddy Hield Kings
SF Will Barton Harrison Barnes Even
PF Paul Millsap Nemanja Bjelica Even
C Nikola Jokic Willey Cauley-Stein Nuggets
Bench Monte Morris, Torrey Craig, Mason Plumlee, Isaiah Thomas Marvin Bagley III, Harry Giles, Yogi Ferrel, Bogdan Bogdanovic Nuggets

Injured players: Isaiah Thomas – game time decision (hip), Tyler Lydon – game time decision (concussion), Michael Porter Jr – out (back), Gary Harris – out (groin)

Key matchup: Jamal Murray vs De’Aaron Fox

You might be a little angry about the Projected Matchups section but check the stats, if anything I should change this to advantage Kings. Fact of the matter is De’Aaron has came into his own this season and has matched Murray in terms of scoring production, but he’s outpaced him in playmaking and defense. While I think Murray can certainly win the matchup, he’s got his work cut out for him. One of the less talked about aspects of the Nuggets defensive fall has been Murray’s inability to control the perimeter. Whether that’s not ducking under a screen and leaving a shooter wide open or simply not stopping dribble penetration, its been an issue. Fox is one of the fastest and deadliest young guards in the league and Murray is going to have to find a way to slow down his fellow Wildcat.

Key thing to watch for: Isaiah Thomas

As if there was anything else that we’d be more tuned into during this game. IT is this massive enigma given what he did two years ago and the struggles he’s faced ever since. Tonight is potentially the first night basketball fans will get to see a fully healthy King in the Fourth since he left Boston and that will be exciting. The game within the game for coach Michael Malone though is if IT is fully back, you have to play him but where do you find the minutes? Tonight will be our first look into coach trying to solve that puzzle. Also, don’t get it twisted Nuggets fans, Monte Morris has been excellent, is a big part of Denver’s future and deserves every minute of playing time he gets. However, that in no way means the Nuggets should not play IT if he’s healthy. Thomas absolutely will be an asset and help this team win games.

Opening thought: let’s get to break on the right foot

The Kings worry me, they’re way more talented then I think people give them credit for and they’ve got some guys like Fox and Buddy Hield who will highlight the Nuggets defensive weaknesses on the perimeter. They’ve also got Willy Cauley-Stein who, win fully engaged, can be a formidable defender against Nikola Jokic. Plenty of formidable defenders have looked very less so when defending Nikola however, and the game against the Miami Heat should give fans a little confidence that the Nuggets are getting back to playing the type of defense that made them so successful early in the season. Denver needs to get this win to head into the break feeling good about themselves and all that they have accomplished in the first 57 games.