After a nice week off, the Denver Nuggets get back in action tonight against the Washington Wizards. It’s a nice soft landing for the Nuggets who face a Wizards team that is clearly in a rebuild. Unlike Denver, Washington was active during the trade deadline but not really in the way you’d hope them to be if you’re a Wizards fan. Washington moved on from several veterans while receiving picks and a pair of players (Richaun Holmes an Marvin Bagley) that aren’t likely to be part of the long term plan in return. Of course, that’s the way she goes (Bubs) when your record is 9-45. That’s good new for a Nuggets team who stumbled into the break and is looking to start the stretch run on the right foot.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (36-19) vs Washington Wizards (9-45)

When: 7:00 PM 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 is available on DirecTV, DirecTV Stream & Fubo TV). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5. Show up with a Luka Doncic Nuggets jersey and say you’re just  “greasing the wheels for the future.”

Rival blog: Bullets Forever

The Matchup

Position Nuggets Wizards Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Tyus Jones Nuggets
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Jordan Poole Nuggets
SF Michael Porter Jr. Bilal Coulibaby Nuggets
PF Aaron Gordon Deni Avdija Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Marvin Bagley III Nuggets
Bench Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, DeAndre Jordan Corey Kispert, Richaun Holmes, Landry Shamet Even


Injury report: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – probable (hamstring), Jamal Murray – probable (shin), Julian Strawther – probable (ankle), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Hunter Tyson – out (finger); Isaiah Livers – out (hip), Jules Bernard – out (G-League)

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Murray and KCP vs health

Jan 11, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) talks with guard Jamal Murray (27) in the first quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The last time we saw Jamal Murray and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on the court it was an abbreviated session. Pope lasted just nine minutes, Jamal just one half before both had to exit the game due to lingering injuries. That was a week and a half ago and both should play tonight with their probable designation. Still, count me among those still concerned. Hamstrings are notoriously tricky injuries and KCP clearly wasn’t close to right last time he attempted to play. Meanwhile, this shin thing Jamal is dealing with seems to just never go away. Obviously a week and a half of rest will do the body good but I’m going to be watching those two guys closely tonight. Until they have a string of games and get fully removed from the injury report I think all Nuggets fans are right to be a little nervous.

The thing to remember: Coming out of the break can be hard

The Nuggets have been pretty strong in their first game after the All Star break in recent years. They’ve won the last three such contests. However, we’ve also seen some epic let downs in these games as well. The one that stands out the most to me was 2017 when the Nuggets traveled to Sacramento to play a team who had just traded their star player signaling the beginning of a rebuild. The Nuggets meanwhile were gearing up for a stretch run they hoped would translate into their first playoff appearance in the Michael Malone era. The team came out and put up a complete dud on their way to an embarrassing loss. It’s understandable though. Remember these guys are human too. We all know how hard that first day back to work after vacation is.

The thing to bet: Nikola Jokic over 9.5 assists (+110)

Remember when Denver played the Wizards in Washington earlier this season? Remember how Wes Unseld Jr. elected to let Daniel Gafford play Jokic one on one the whole night and Joker ended up dropping 42 on him? It was the biggest example of “make Nikola beat you as a scorer” that we may have ever seen. Unseld was removed from head coaching duties four days later and Gafford now plays for the Dallas Mavericks. I’m going to hazard a guess that Washington doesn’t take the same approach again. At +110 odds, it’s a guess I like to make. Oh, BTW, even with Washington playing Joker straight up he still got eight assists that night.