The Denver Nuggets are coming off a win last night against the Memphis Grizzlies and it was about everything you could hope for. The Nuggets led wire to wire, Nikola Jokic got another triple double, every starter scored in double figures and Michael Porter Jr. looked great off the bench. Now, Denver has to complete the weekend’s work and get their energy back up for another game tonight against the Sacramento Kings.

Denver should win this game. The Kings had a terrible run of luck so far this year with injuries, missing key players like Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox for extended periods of time. As a result they’ve fallen eight games below .500 and once very realistic playoff aspirations look to be all but extinguished. Sacramento has lost six straight and Fox and Bagley are back on the shelf once again. Meanwhile there seems to be growing discontent in the locker room. Dewayne Dedmon has already requested a trade despite signing with the Kings this year and Buddy Hield has had some interesting post game comments such as

“Seems like we’re all over the place.… trust issues going on, I guess. They (coaches) stop believing in players. It is what it what is.” – Buddy Hield via Jason Jones of The Athletic


The Basics

Who: Sacramento Kings (12-20) vs Denver Nuggets (22-9)

When: 6:00 PM MST

Where: The Can. Denver, CO.

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV and KKSE Altitude Radio 92.5FM

Rival Blog: Sactown Royalty

Position Nuggets Kings Advantage
PG Jamal Murray Corey Joseph Nuggets
SG Gary Harris Buddy Hield Even
SF Will Barton III Harrison Barnes Even
PF Paul Millsap Nemanja Bjelica Nuggets
C Nikola Jokic Richaun Holmes Nuggets
Bench Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr., Malik Beasley, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee Yogi Ferrell, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin James Nuggets

Injured players: Paul Millsap – questionable (quad), Marvin Bagley – out (foot), De’Aaron Fox – out (back), DaQuan Jeffries – out (undisclosed)

Key matchup: Will Barton vs Harrison Barnes

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Barnes is averaging twenty-one points and six and a half rebounds against the Nuggets in their two matchups this season including exploding for thirty points and guiding the Kings to a comeback victory the last time these two teams met. While no one is mistaking Barnes for Kevin Durant, his solid scoring ability mixed with good size from the small forward position is a nightmare for Denver. This was the case with Brandon Ingram, this was the case with Marcus Morris and this has been the case with Barnes. As good as Will has been on defense this year there is only so much he can do about being 6’5”. Nonetheless, he’s going to have to find a way to slow down Barnes or risk getting torched again.

Main thing to watch for: trap game

It’s hard to call this game a trap game given the Nuggets are on the second night of a back to back but it should be noted the Kings are on the toughest SEGABABA you can have: second game in Denver after a late night close affair on the West Coast. By all accounts, Denver should win this one going away. The Kings are a mess, the Nuggets are back on track but still have a fresh reminder of losing to a team when they took their foot off the gas on Christmas and Denver should want revenge for the last time these teams met. Still, the Barnes mismatch, an athletic big in Richaun Holmes, the weird voodoo hex Vivek Ranadive put on Michael Malone when he fired him…there’s a lot of things that work against the Nuggets here so they’ll need to approach this game like it’s a marquee matchup.

Opening thought: get the win to send Denver off right

The Nuggets are about to hit their toughest road trip thus far. They’re going on a five game swing that starts in Houston and ends in Dallas but because NBA schedule makers believe all teams are masochists, this trip somehow has stops in Washington D.C. and Atlanta as well. The last extended road trip the Nuggets were on they entered on a two game losing streak. Ultimately they went 1-3 on that four game roadie. If Denver can win tonight they’ll have back to back wins and victories in nine of their last ten. If they lose it could be the beginning of another rough patch. Gotta get the W tonight.