The NBA’s regular season is almost upon us, which will mark the start of meaningful NBA basketball games for the first time since the Denver Nuggets won their first title. Sure, the Summer League and preseason are a bit important, but that is not what teams focus on primarily at the end of the day.
The Denver Nuggets have already played three preseason games. The first one was away against the Phoenix Suns, where Denver won. The next was away against the Chicago Bulls, where they lost. The third one, though, they won in Denver against Chicago again.
This fourth and upcoming game is against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Staple Center on Tuesday night. The Clippers are 1-1, winning one but also losing one against the Utah Jazz.
The Clippers and Nuggets will face two times to end the preseason, with each team being home once. The Clippers will be home on Tuesday night, while Denver will be home on Thursday. Both of these matchups should be entertaining games, as both the Clippers and Nuggets are considered to be favorites to win the Western Conference.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George make for a dangerous wing duo, as both are two of the league’s top perimeter defenders when healthy. Their offensive abilities are also a key part of their skillsets, as both have been on many All-Star teams in their careers.
Chances are, the Nuggets’ best perimeter defenders will be on both players. Aaron Gordon will probably be matched up against Kawhi Leonard, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be tasked to guard Paul George.
Just like every preseason game, Mike Malone probably will not play his star players a lot of minutes. This means that Denver’s star-studded starting lineup probably will not play a lot of the game, and will probably all be benched for the fourth quarter. The same could be said for the Clippers, as George and Leonard won’t be asked to play as much as they would in the regular season.
It will be a great matchup also because of the trade the Nuggets made last season. At the trade deadline last year, the Denver Nuggets traded Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland to the Los Angeles Clippers for two second round picks, a low return for the All-Rookie Second-Teamer.
Hyland was unhappy with his role on the team, and it showed in the games. He was ultimately dealt to Los Angeles to maintain the high morale in the locker room, and it worked out, considering Denver won a title without Hyland on the roster in the playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers game should be an entertaining matchup considering the star talent on both rosters, even if the best players will not play a lot of the game like they usually would.
If the Nuggets can finish the preseason 4-1, it will show that their young players and prospects, who have played a majority of the minutes, can handle the task of helping compete for a title. More bench help is definitely needed, as Bruce Brown left big shoes to fill when he left for Indiana this offseason.
If I were to predict a score, I’d say the Denver Nuggets will defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-115, in a narrow fourth quarter victory.