The Denver Nuggets are on a back to back after dropping the first game of their road trip last night in Boston. There’s no time to pout with a quick jaunt over to Washington DC to take on the Washington Wizards. The Nuggets are facing the additional challenge of a limited roster. Last night Denver was without five rotation players, including three starters. It seems likely that they will face similar circumstances tonight given the quick turn around.

The Wizards meanwhile are, well, the Wizards. Bradley Beal remains a scoring dynamo, capable of putting up 40 points on any given night and Russell Westbrook is still a hyper skilled, hyper athletic walking triple double threat…and the Wizards are still one of the worst teams in the league. However, Washington has won their last two games so perhaps things are looking up. Outside of Beal and Westbrook there’s not a ton of talent. Rui Hachimura is a nice young player, Davis Bertans can hurt you from three (though his numbers are down this season), Robin Lopez and Raul Neto are ok bench pieces. All in all though, it’s two guys and a bunch of filler.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (15-12) at Washington Wizards (8-17)

When: 6:00 PM MST

Where: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy…unless its the romanticized 18th-century type. Altitude TV where available, League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Dress up like Alex Jones and claim Hunter Biden’s laptop is stashed in the bowels of Capital One Arena. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.

Rival Blog: Bullets Forever

Position Nuggets Pacers Advantage
PG Monte Morris Malcolm Brogdon Pacers
SG Jamal Murray Justin Holiday Nuggets
SF Will Barton Doug McDermott Even
PF Michael Porter Jr. Domantas Sabonis Pacers
C Nikola Jokic Myles turner Nuggets
Bench P.J. Dozier, Zeke Nnaji, Isaiah Hartenstein, Vlatko Cancar T.J. McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner, Aaron Holiday Pacers

Player availability: Monte Morris – questionable (shoulder), Gary Harris – out (adductor), P.J. Dozier – out (hamstring), Will Barton – out (personal), Paul Millsap – out (knee), Greg Whittington – out (knee); Ish Smith – out (quad), Thomas Bryant – out (knee)

Three things to watch for

Key matchup: Jamal Murray vs Bradley Beal

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The shooting guards are where it is at tonight. As I said, Beal is liable to go for forty on any given night. He is once again the NBA’s leading scorer, averaging 33.1 points per game, but in fairness he takes an average of 24 shots a game to get there. Murray has had an up and down season so far and is nagged by lingering injuries. He was the only one outside of Nikola Jokic and Facundo Campazzo to do anything on the offensive end last night though and the Nuggets will need him to be top notch tonight. He has to avoid the turnovers that plagued his game last night as well. It doesn’t do Denver any good if he scores twenty plus points but also has five plus turnovers.

Key thing to watch for: fatigue

The Nuggets played four rookies last night. None of those guys are used to playing a game and then hopping on a plane to play another one the very next night. In theory the young guys should have fresh legs, but that might not be the case. Denver’s best bet tonight is going to be to get up early so if their game falls off in the second half they can hopefully weather the storm.

Opening thought: no excuses

Yes, Denver is on a back to back and yes, they are very injured. Doesn’t matter. The Nuggets need to win tonight. All the good feelings from winning three in a row and blowing out the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday will evaporate if Denver loses tonight. Washington is a bad team and has been for some time now. This is a game the Nuggets absolutely should and need to win. Murray, Michael Porter Jr., JaMychal Green…these guys have to step up and help Jokic. Even against Washington the plan can’t be to just have Nikola drag the rest of the team across the finish line. Step up, ball out and get on to Cleveland.