The Denver Nuggets try for their first win of the season against the Sacramento Kings tonight in the final regular season matchup between the two squads. Each of the previous three games was on a back-to-back for one of the teams, and Denver has lost all of them so far, but with both squads rested maybe we’ll finally see the potential playoff-level matchup that this should be. The Kings lost their last game to the Miami Heat – who were missing several players due to suspension including Jimmy Butler – so they’ll be trying to clear that taste from their mouths, while the Nuggets just need to lock down every game they can for home court while also maybe beating Malone’s former squad finally as a favor to their coach. Regardless, it should be a high-caliber shooting match between two squads that are looking to make deep playoff runs.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (39-19) at Sacramento Kings (33-23)

When: 7:00PM MST

Where: Ball Arena, 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. Say you’re on a two-way contract and just got called up from the Grand Rapids Gold.

Rival Blog: Kings Herald

Injury Report*: Hunter Tyson – questionable (finger), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee); Sasha Vezenkov – out (ankle)

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Denver needs to shoot early and often

The Sacramento Kings give up the highest 3-point percentage to opponents in the entire NBA. They cough up 118 points per game which makes them a bottom-third scoring defense with a Defensive Rating hovering around 20. They are not a stout defense and they do not have a shot-blocker or great perimeter defense – you can get what you want against the Kings, and efficiently. The Kings get you by removing fastbreaks (they get back on defense very well) and by making you play their game. An up-and-down style with a lot of ball movement is the way they operate, and they just do it better than most teams. They don’t do it better than Denver does… except that in every matchup thus far this year they HAVE done it better than Denver does. The Nuggets have either been too tired or too careless to take care of business against the Kings, and to win tonight they will need to provide the offense by making those open perimeter shots and remember their defense for the second half which they forgot right before the All Star Break. Denver’s defense – when they play it – is flat out better than anything the Kings have to throw at the Nuggets, but if this turns into a slop-fest like the last game then Sacramento is just as capable of chasing Denver down again.

The thing to remember: It’s better for it to be a team game against Sacramento than The Jokic Show

Jokic against the Kings this year has had one monster game (36 / 13/ 14 in December) as well as two sub-par outings, which for anyone else would be great nights but for him specifically meant Denver took a couple of bad losses. Sacramento is actually really good at defending scoring from the center position, with the second-best mark in the league despite not having a DPOY candidate there. Domantas Sabonis is very good at positioning in a similar way to Jokic, and keeping players from getting to their favorite spots. Jokic is rested this time however, and shouldn’t need to have another incredible scoring night if the rest of the Nuggets play their parts correctly while he orchestrates. If the Nuggets can get the lead, Jokic can take it home, but it would be nice for them to come out firing and not let Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox show them up again. This is a great opportunity for the whole team to come out ready to avenge that pre-All-Star-Break loss.

The thing to bet: Jokic 2+ threes (+200)

The Nuggets are 7.5 point favorites, so that’s not a great bet. I said to bet on Jokic making threes last time these squads matched up and it didn’t hit, but I’m saying to do it again. He’s been more active about taking threes this month and for the money – especially against a squad that doesn’t defend them – he may get some target practice out there.