For the first time in a little over a month, the Denver Nuggets (22-11) are in action for a back-to-back contest with their second straight game against the Sacramento Kings (17-15) on the docket in front of them. The Nuggets knocked off the Kings last night 113-106 behind some strong shooting from Michael Porter Jr., who had 30 points on 12-of-20 from the floor and 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

The Nuggets are 8-2 over their last 10 games and riding a five-game winning streak entering tonight. This is arguably their toughest stretch of games all season, and their results at the end of it will go a long way towards determining where they slot into the league’s hierarchy. 

For the Kings, they’re 4-6 in their last 10 games, but they still find themselves in seventh in the Western Conference. They’re giving teams a strong run every night, and we’re seeing that they’re building a strong foundation to try and compete over the next several seasons even if their window isn’t quite open yet.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (22-11, 10-8 away) @ Sacramento Kings (17-15, 9-7 home)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. NBATV or League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Sacramento. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Sactown Royalty

Expected Starting Lineups:

SAC: PG De’Aaron Fox, SG Kevin Huerter, SF Harrison Barnes, PF Keegan Murray, C Alex Len

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg), Bruce Brown (ankle), Jeff Green (hand/finger), Aaron Gordon (shoulder), Domantas Sabonis (thumb)

Three Things to Watch

Jokic’s Shooting

Last night, Nikola Jokic scored 20 points while shooting 7-of-10 from the floor, and he had just two shots in the first half. It wasn’t the first time this year that he came out and looked more interested in setting up teammates than scoring for himself. There’s nothing wrong with that when MPJ and Jamal Murray combine for 55 points while shooting 8-of-16 from 3-point range. If they start the game slow, it’s on Jokic to take the game under his control to get everything rolling.

Bench Ball-Handling

During the first half of last night’s game, Bruce Brown went down with an ankle injury that knocked him out of the remainder of the game. If he is unable to go tonight, that would leave Bones Hyland as the lone primary ball handler for the second unit. Bones can set up for others, but he needs a second creator alongside him to ease that workload. Without Brown, how will Brown handle those second-unit minutes alongside Bones?

Slowing De’Aaron Fox

The Nuggets’ main achilles heel remains guards that can penetrate a defense and win with speed. We’ve seen quick guards give them problems all year, and De’Aaron Fox was no exception last night. He shot 10-of-16 from the floor with 26 points in just 31 minutes. If Domantas Sabonis misses again tonight, Fox will be the primary threat to worry about on the defensive end, and the Nuggets can’t just allow him to score at will again.