The Denver Nuggets (21-11) are set to take on the Sacramento Kings (17-14) later tonight and will try to prove themselves as the true Kings of Sacramento. They are coming off arguably their best game of the year after beating the Phoenix Suns on Christmas Day and taking sole control as the number 1 seed in the Western Conference. With most of the injuries gone away the Nuggets have no excuse to not keep the vibes high, with them being victors of four straight games, all of which have been quality wins (except maybe the Hornets one, that was a bit of a stinger).

The Kings, meanwhile, have had a good start to the year. They are the seventh best offense in the league and have many potent offensive threats in players like De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, and others. The Nuggets defense has looked good in the past few games, but this will be a challenging matchup.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (21-11, 9-8 away) at Sacramento Kings (17-14, 9-6 home)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA

How to watch/listen: League Pass for those not in Denver, AltitudeTV where available, show up in Sacramento, 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Sactown Royalty

Expected Starting Lineups:

PHX: PG De’Aaron Fox, SG Kevin Huerter, SF Keegan Murray, PF Harrison Barnes, C Domantas Sabonis

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Collin Gillespie (leg), Jeff Green (finger/hand), Domantas Sabonis (thumb)

Three Things to Watch

Contain De’Aaron Fox

De’Aaron Fox is one of the league’s most explosive guards and Denver has had issues containing quick guards. As of late, they have found more success on the defensive end and will look to contain Fox well. It will come down to the defensive chops of KCP, Bruce Brown, Aaron Gordon, and maybe Christian Braun if Malone plays him tonight. Those three have been good lately, but will need to be great against someone as fast as Fox.

Aaron Gordon’s All-Star Bid

Aaron Gordon has been electric all season, and folks are starting to notice. He had the potential dunk of the year on Christmas and put himself on the map as someone who is a contributor to a high level team. In order to get the necessary votes he will have to continue this quality of play, and against a team that has struggled to guard well — he’ll have his opportunities to contribute. He’s been the second best Nugget, and has a shot at being the first Nugget to join Nikola Jokic at an All-Star game.

Bones’ Struggles

As of late, Bones Hyland has had a rough time putting the ball in the hoop — averaging 10.6 points on 38% from the field and only 32.8% from beyond the three point line in the last 11 games. Defensively, he hasn’t been there all season, but the Nuggets bench needs him to function well as a unit. It seems like he’s been in his head lately, and needs a big game to get him out of this shooting slump. With Malik Monk coming off the Kings bench, he’ll have someone to go toe to toe with, maybe that’ll be enough motivation to get him back to shooting the lights out again.