The Denver Nuggets are settling into a groove. Since returning from break they’ve been getting up for the games against the marquee teams and taking care of business against the teams they should beat. Tonight will be another take care of business game with the Toronto Raptors in town. The Raptors punted on the season a few weeks before the trade deadline when they shipped out O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam in separate trades. While they did net a return of Bruce Brown among a plethora of other things, none of it is going to help the Raptors avoid a deep rebuild. The team now focuses on creating a core around the ’21/’22 Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes (out tonight) and is looking on to greener pastures in seasons to come.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (44-20) vs Toronto Raptors (23-41)

When: 7PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy….unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. Altitude TV where available (Altitude TV is on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Fubo TV). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5. Wear a suit, say you’re Bruce Brown’s agent and you’re here to meet with Calvin about next year.

Rival Blog: Raptors HQ

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Raptors Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Immanuel Quickley Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Gary Trent Jr. Nuggets
SF Michael Porter Jr. R.J. Barrett Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon Ochai Agbaji Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Kelly Olynyk Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Zeke Nnaji Chris Boucher, Gradey Dick, Javon Freeman-Liberty, Jordan Nwora Nuggets

Injury Report: Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Braxton Key – out (G-League), Jalen Pickett – out (G-League), Hunter Tyson – out (G-League); R.J. Barrett – questionable (illness), Chris Boucher – questionable (knee), Bruce Brown – questionable (knee), Scottie Barnes – out (hand), Jakob Poetl – out (hand), D.J. Carson – out (ankle), Mouhamadou Gueye – out (G-League)

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Jamal Murray vs Immanuel Quickley

Feb 26, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Immanuel Quickley (5) dribbles the ball while Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) defends in the first half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Immanuel Quickley has really flourished in Toronto’s system since coming over in a trade with the New York Knicks. He’s taken on the role of their starting point guard and has added quite the playmaking game to his scoring prowess. He’s topped double digit assists in three of his last five games, including putting up 18 just two games ago, and has raised his APG total by four (granted with the help of getting about 50% more minutes a game). Meanwhile Jamal Murray seems to be rounding into playoff form. Fresh off a 37 point night that was overshadowed by Jamal’s poor press conference ethic, it’ll be interesting to see how big of an “F you” mentality Jamal is in tonight and how that translates on the court.

The thing to remember: Toronto is so injured

Yes the Raptors have shifted towards a rebuild but that doesn’t mean they wanted their standard operating procedure to be four small guards and Kelly Olynyk. Sadly, that’s essentially the choice Toronto has been saddled with, particularly in their game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday which saw R.J. Barrett sit out due to illness. You know you’re in trouble on the size front when losing Barrett is notable. RJ is listed as questionable tonight, as is bench wing Chris Boucher and our old friend Bruce Brown. Barnes and Jakob Poetl meanwhile are out for the season. Those five guys alone probably have enough to compete for a play-in spot in the East so the injuries are taking a massive toll in Toronto. Still, Denver can’t lose focus or they might end up on the wrong end of a an ugly loss.

The thing to bet: Aaron Gordon over 0.5 blocks (+125)

With how small the Raptors are going to play it’s going to leave some opportunity for some swats. It’s been a few games since AG has had one and that’s driving us into pretty good plus money on a guy who averages 0.6 blocks a game and will be defending someone who is 6’6″ or smaller for the vast majority of the game. Always a risk betting on getting one block but I think the Toronto matchup lends to it happening more likely than not.

SNO again this week!

Three weeks, three stiffs night out. You gotta love it! We are headed back down to Number Thirty-Eight this Wednesday for Stiffs Night Out. At this point you guys know the drill. Giveaways, $15 pitchers, great food, live postgame podcast and all the best Nuggets fans getting together to watch Denver in a Finals rematch against the Miami Heat. It’s an early game which works out well for us on a Wednesday so get off work, head over to Number Thirty-Eight for a 5:30 tip, watch the postgame pod and be home by your bedtime. Hope to see everyone there!