The Denver Nuggets streak of national TV games is at an end. After a week of marquee matchups the Nuggets get back to the everyday business of basketball with a game against lottery bound division rival the Utah Jazz. It’s year two of the Jazz’s rebuild and it’s going about the same as year one. When Utah jettisoned Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert they received a plethora of picks and also some pretty good players, first and foremost Lauri Markkanen (out tonight). That puts them in this weird no man’s land of the NBA where they are good enough to stay right on the outside looking in to the play-in tournament but not good enough to actually get in while simultaneously being not bad enough to land a high chance at getting the number one overall pick. Time will tell if Utah has an effective roster building strategy or if they will be doomed to a decade of obscurity.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (43-20) vs Utah Jazz (28-35)

When: 7PM

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 an Isaiah Thomas mask and a Salt Lake City Stars jersey and tell security you just got called up.

Rival Blog: SLC Dunk

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Jazz Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Collin Sexton Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Kris Dunn Nuggets
SF Michael Porter Jr. Brice Sensabaugh Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon John Collins Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Luka Samanic Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Zeke Nnaji Jordan Clarkson, Talen Horton-Tucker, Omer Yurtseven, Johnny Juzang (no, seriously, these are real players) Even

Injury report: Nikola Jokic – probable (arm), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Walker Kessler – questionable (foot), Lauri Markkanen – out (quad), Taylor Hendricks – out (ankle), Otto Porter Jr – out (chillin’), Micah Potter – out (G-League), Jason Preston – out (G-League)

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Nuggets vs focus

Oct 19, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) tries to get past Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) during the second half at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Jazz are injured and down bad. They are already without Markkanen and also have been missing their starting center Walker Kessler for several games (he is questionable tonight). This mish mash of talent they are throwing out on the court has only had two victories in their last eleven games, and those came against the San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards who have won a combined twenty-three games this season. The Nuggets find themselves firmly in a trap game. We’ve seen many times, and at the hands of the Jazz specifically, that the Nuggets can struggle to get up for these games. However, they’ve also been all business for a couple weeks now. If they can maintain their focus they should be able to put this team to bed early and snag an easy victory. If they don’t then we may be looking at another ugly loss at the hands of a thirty plus night from Jordan Clarkson.

The thing to remember: division rivals are still division rivals

The other thing to factor into not getting complacent here is the rivalry. Say what you want about the differences of talent levels with these teams, the Nuggets and Jazz are still division rivals. Utah is in fact probably Denver’s biggest division rival and vice versa. This is not a game the Jazz are just going to lay down for. Utah is rested, they aren’t going to be bothered by the altitude and they will be looking for something to prove. Whether it’s Clarkson, Collin Sexton, John Collins or heck even Brice Sensabaugh (put up a double double in his last game), somebody is going to be bringing the extra juice tonight and it will probably be more than just one player. The Nuggets have the overwhelming talent advantage though so they just have to match that energy.

The thing to bet: John Collins under 9.5 rebounds (-105)

Collins averages just 7.5 rebounds against the Nuggets and while he’s looked to more on the glass with Kessler out I’m not buying him grabbing double digit boards against Denver’s massive frontcourt. We also have to factor in that Kessler could play tonight and this game could also turn into a blow out making betting any over a precarious position. At essentially even money I like my chances that Collins hits around his average boards against the Nuggets and doesn’t exceed it by more than two rebounds.