Preview: Nuggets set to take on shorthanded Warriors

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Denver Nuggets had a great month of basketball in January, going 12-4 in their 16 games. That mark is the best in the league, and they’ve had the makings of a championship favorite for a long time now – with the return to form from Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., and the MVP-level play from Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets are seemingly finding their stride.

This level of play is very encouraging, and with the Western Conference being seemingly wide open this season, it’s coming at a good time for the Nuggets. However, they can’t just rest on their laurels and be content. They’ll have to keep their nose to the grindstone, and beat the teams their supposed to beat.

They’ll get that chance tonight against the visiting Golden State Warriors, who are expected to rest Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. With the Warriors also coming off of a back-to-back, the Nuggets will have the opportunity to catch them on their heels. At times this season, they’ve come out flat against opponents that they should beat – however, as of late, that practice has fallen to the wayside.

What players to watch?

With the Nuggets being 3 games up on the Grizzlies for the top seed in the conference, this game gives them a good chance of gaining even more cushion in that lead. It also can give Jamal Murray an opportunity to keep his rhythm going against a weaker back court. In his last 11 games, the Blue Arrow is averaging 23.5 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, and 6.7 assists per game. His efficiency has been through the roof too with splits of 46.5/43.6/91.1.

Nikola Jokic also can keep up his average of a triple-double, with his 15 assists against the Pelicans on Tuesday night officially giving him an average of 10 assists on the season. Another player to keep an eye on is Bones Hyland. The sophomore guard has been rumored to be available and is reportedly considered to be one of the most likely players to be traded before next week’s trade deadline.

He may have a chance to prove to the front office that he still belongs in a Denver Nuggets uniform despite his recent struggles. However, if he has a short leash as he did against the Pelicans, in which he only played 4 minutes – it could spell the end of Bones’ tenure with the team. While a trade still seems likely, anything could happen.

What to know?

When: 7 PM EST

Where: Ball Arena, Denver, CO

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass, Altitude Sports

Injuries:

Golden State Warriors – Steph Curry (rest) QUESTIONABLE, Klay Thompson (rest) OUT, Draymond Green (rest) QUESTIONABLE, Andre Iguodala (hip) OUT

Denver Nuggets – Collin Gillespie (leg fracture) OUT, Aaron Gordon (left ankle sprain) QUESTIONABLE, Jack White (thigh) OUT