The Denver Nuggets (12-10) are preparing for a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks (15-8) as two teams that are looking to scrap for early positioning in their respective conferences with MVP candidates leading the charge. For the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic is putting together the best season of his young career thus far. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo is doing the same thing he’s done in his last two MVP seasons. 

For Denver, after a few solid wins, they had a terrible week with losses to the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers. While Jokic had a down game against the Lakers, he put up 50 points against the Kings while shooting 60 percent from the floor, and the team still lost by five. With the guard position being ravaged by injuries, the wings and forwards need to step up. 

For Milwaukee, they look primarily like the team that they have been since Giannis ascended to MVP status. They’re an elite team on both ends of the floor, and they’re going to win a lot more games than they lose. Against Denver, they present a terrible matchup, and they could easily get their third win of this six-game road trip. 

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (12-10, 5-5 home) vs Milwaukee Bucks (15-8, 6-6 away)

When: 7:30 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up on Zoom. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Brew Hoop

Expected Starting Lineups:

MIL: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Donte DiVincenzo, SF Khris Middleton, PF Giannis Antetokounmpo, C Brook Lopez

DEN: PG Monte Morris, SG Will Barton, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Paul Millsap, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: P.J. Dozier, Gary Harris, Greg Whittington, Jamal Murray, Facundo Campazzo

Three Things to Watch

Jokic vs Giannis

Jokic is the reason Denver has 12 wins thus far. He’s averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and assists while shooting a career-best 56.9 percent from the field. If Jamal Murray misses another game, he will have to do all of the heavy lifting. For Giannis, he just has to continue doing what he’s doing. If he puts up an average game for himself, the rest of the team has the firepower to get a win. 

Step up or step aside

Harris and Dozier have already been ruled out for the game while Murray and Campazzo are questionable. If Murray misses, Morris will be the starter. If that’s the case, someone needs to help out. Whether it’s Barton, MPJ or someone else, the big role is here for you, and you need to seize it. 19 points on 7-of-23 shooting isn’t acceptable from guys that should be featured scorers for you. 

Defense can not disappear

Denver is not a defensive team. With Harris and Dozier out, that is even more true. Against this Bucks’ team, which is currently ranked 2nd in offensive rating, you have to get the best effort out of everyone. Jokic is likely going to be worn out from his work on the offensive end of the floor which will mean Barton, Porter and Millsap need to lock in a little more to push for a win.