The Denver Nuggets look for their 6th win on the season as they take on the Chicago Bulls at Ball Arena on Saturday night. The Nuggets are coming off a great win against the Dallas Mavericks in the first NBA In-Season Tournament game of the season, while the Bulls lost a heartbreaker to the Brooklyn Nets by 2 points. Both teams are on a back-to-back, so I don’t expect a full complement of players from either team, nor the prettiest basketball game anyone’s ever witnessed, but the Nuggets need to build on their early-season momentum and handle their business against the Bulls on Denver’s home court.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (5-1) vs Chicago Bulls (2-4)

When: 7:00 PM MDT on 11/4/23


How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. Altitude 2 where available (Altitude 2 is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Fubo TV). NBA League Pass for non-Nuggets market viewers. Altitude Radio 92.5 FM. Stow away in the luggage of former Denver GM and current Bulls vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas.

Rival Blog:

Injury report: Christian Braun – probable (shin), Nikola Jokic – probable (back), Jamal Murray – doubtful (everything), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Ayo Dosunmu – out (illness); Lonzo Ball – out (knee)

The Three Things

Key Matchup: Nuggets vs. getting tired. It’s been a brutal schedule for Denver recently, with this being the fifth game in seven nights for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray may miss this game, as coach Michael Malone detailed some of Murray’s early season aches and pains after the game and listed him as the player he’s most concerned about coming into this game. Playing him 39 minutes in the first game of a back-to-back is the sort of thing that normally would keep someone out of the second game if they are banged up, but Murray hates taking games off so we’ll see how that goes.

Regardless, the Nuggets need to avoid the dead legs they suffered against Minnesota and attack the basket early. The Bulls are facing their own schedule issues and are the traveling team, so Denver’s fresh young legs could help change the flow of the game in their favor.

Can the bench step up? The Nuggets reserves played a decent amount in the win against the Mavericks and will be called into more pressing duty against the Bulls with at least Murray looking doubtful and potentially some others. Julian Strawther might hear his name called as a rested member of that unit, but I’m very interested to see how the other guys on rookie contracts look, especially Peyton Watson and Christian Braun. Consistency matters in the NBA, and getting up for a nationally-televised game against the rival Mavs is easier than the next-day followup against the struggling Bulls. But the Bulls bench has a size advantage on Denver, as illustrated by the punking that Andre Drummond gave the whole unit on the glass in the preseason, and the Nuggets will need to overcome that. They were a -6 against the Mavs, but a +4 in the first half which meant a disastrous second stint. That group needs to come out clean in both stints and gang rebound to make sure it’s not all on Nikola Jokic and the starters to grind out the win.

The Bet: Not many betting lines available at the time of this writing, but Denver is a -10 favorite and I would take that. The Bulls are a team the Nuggets should put away, and facing Denver at the altitude while coming East to West on a back-to-back is a tough gig. The bet is for the Bulls to lose their legs in the 3rd and for Denver to pull away.

Prediction: 117-100 Nuggets. Losing the munder on the last bucket seems apropos, but I’ll take any win the Nuggets can get. And they should get this one.