The Denver Nuggets roller coaster season continues. They won six of seven, then lost three in a row, then won three in a row, then lost three of their next four. It has been anything but what fans expected. One of the lower lows was the 46 point second quarter the team gave up to the Washington Wizards. That ended up being the catalyst for a Washington lead that eventually helped them secure a narrow victory. Tonight Denver looks for payback on their own floor.
The Wizards meanwhile just might have started to figure some things out. That win against the Nuggets was smack dab in the middle of a five game win streak after an abysmal start to the season. Washington is however coming off a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Bradley Beal continues to lead the league in scoring, Russell Westbrook is agonizingly close to averaging a triple double and, as Nuggets fans well know, Davis Bertans can really shoot it from the outside. The Nuggets will have to come out with focus if they want revenge against a pretty hot team.
Who: Washington Wizards (11-18) at Denver Nuggets (17-14)
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Ball Arena. Denver, CO.
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. Go to Ball Arena in shorts and sandals to help shovel snow and hope someone takes pity on you and let’s you inside. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio.
Rival Blog: Bullets Forever
|PG||Facundo Campazzo||Russell Westbrook||Wizards|
|SG||Jamal Murray||Bradley Beal||Wizards|
|SF||Michael Porter Jr||Garrison Matthews||Nuggets|
|PF||JaMychal Green||Rui Hachimura||Even|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Moritz Wagner||Nuggets|
|Bench||R.J. Hampton, Zeke Nnaji, Vlatko Cancar, Isaiah Hartenstein, Markus Howard||Davis Bertans, Deni Avidja, Robin Lopez, Raul Neto||Even|
Player availability: Greg Whittington – doubtful (knee), Paul Millsap – out (knee), Gary Harris – out (adductor), JaMychal Green – out (shoulder), P.J. Dozier – out (hamstring); Thomas Bryant – out (knee), Ish Smith – out (quad).
Three Things to watch for
Key matchup: Facundo Campazzo vs. Wizards backcourt
Monte Morris will likely get the start tonight but expect Facundo Campazzo to play big minutes as well. Coach Michael Malone went with a strict 8 man rotation in Denver’s last game, cutting R.J. Hampton out of the rotation, and he may very well go with that again. If he does expect a heavy dose of Campazzo on Westbrook and Beal. Despite being undersized, Facu has quickly become Denver’s best backcourt defender with Gary Harris and P.J. Dozier out. The Nuggets will certainly need him to be on his “A” game tonight with the caliber of backcourt the Wizards bring to the table.
Key point: Who’s going to step up?
Jamal Murray has finally joined Nikola Jokic as a primary contributor to Denver’s game but outside of those two Denver hasn’t had a ton of support from their role players. Now, it’s a more difficult thing to get when you’re missing like half your roster but still, the Nuggets need a third guy to step up. The natural choice here is Michael Porter Jr. and he certainly has had his moments this season. Even in the recent win against the Portland Trail Blazers MPJ was solid, particularly on the defensive end which is typically his weakness. However, he took only nine shots despite leading the team in minutes. The Nuggets have to find a better way to incorporate MPJ into their offense if they want to maximize his production. Another candidate to look at is Will Barton who is starting to look like he’s fully healthy but the consistency is yet to be there. If the Nuggets get a big night from either of those guys they should be able to capture the win.
Opening thought: don’t get swept by the Wizards
The Wizards are playing better, yes, but they are still an 11-18 team in the Eastern Conference. This is absolutely a team the Nuggets should beat on their homecourt, injuries or no injuries. I would say this game is about pride, but it’s more than that as well. The Nuggets have squandered any leeway they might have had with dropping winnable games. They are 17-14 and thus far have spoiled an MVP caliber first half of the season from Jokic. Win the games you’re supposed to win or go from a team in the Western Conference Finals to a team in the Western Conference Play-In tournament.